On January 3, 2013, over three dozen Iowans spoke at a public hearing in opposition to an attempt by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to suppress voter turnout in the name of fighting voter fraud. AFSC and other groups have signed on to a statement by the ACLU of Iowa calling on Secretary Shultz to withdraw the proposed rule changes. Below is a statement by AFSC Iowa staff at the hearing.
AFSC Statement at Public Hearing on Voter Suppression Rules
Thank you to all who are involved in this process and for the leadership from the ACLU of Iowa and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC).
My name is Kathleen McQuillen. I am the Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee in Iowa.
AFSC is an international human rights organization with programs throughout the US and in 15 countries around the world.
AFSC has a long history of working to advance human and civil rights. We are privileged to have worked alongside the Freedom Riders, the NAACP, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and all those who fought for the right to vote throughout the 50s and 60s.
Today in Iowa our office continues our work for human and civil rights through our work with immigrants and refugees. Our program helps these newcomers through the immigration status process and family reunification, and we help them learn about the civic processes in the US and Iowa. We are delighted to offer some support to those who have come under trying conditions and work so hard to make their way in their new communities.
Every step of the way is a challenge.
Every step of the way there are those who would demean and threaten and intimidate.
But they persevere and they bring with them many gifts of culture, language, creativity, experience; we are fortunate to have them among us.
As an Iowan and a human rights advocate, I find it deeply disturbing to see this attempt by our government to demean, threaten, and intimidate those who come to our state to contribute and to be part of the democratic process. The right to vote is not a political toy to be used as a weapon to stifle civic participation. In this country voting is not a privilege awarded to the few; it is a right conferred by citizenship.
I urge the Iowa legislature and Gov. Branstad to reject voter suppression efforts being promulgated by Secretary Schultz.