Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JULY 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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Reclaim the right to vote

We are reminded of how lucky we are to live in a democracy, with the right to vote for the elected officials we support. The League of Women Voters is an organization that believes that every citizen's right to vote should be protected and that no person should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination. The League of Women Voters of the U.S. believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.

At present, there are changes taking place in a number of states that are making it more difficult for Americans to vote. At this time, 39 states have enacted strict new voter-ID laws or restrictions on early voting. These new laws will disenfranchise as many as 5 million eligible voters this year. The supporters of restrictive voting laws claim "voter fraud," but this is a problem that has not been shown to exist.

In a front-page story in the Des Moines Register on June 25, by the Associated Press, "Gov. Terry Branstad has made Iowa one of the most difficult states in the nation for felons to vote in. On the day he took office, Branstad signed an order reversing a six-year policy started under Gov. Tom Vilsack in which felons automatically regained their voting rights once they were discharged from state supervision."

Kentucky, Florida, and Virginia are the other states that require felons to apply to the governor. Thirty-eight states allow individuals to immediately gain their rights once they complete their sentences.

As the Register reports, what is going on in Iowa and across the nation "harkens back the ugly techniques used throughout history … the goal is to exclude specific people from the democratic process."

Let us all remember that in this democracy, the League of Women Voters works to "Protect the Vote." This year we are making a renewed effort to get individuals registered to vote, including high-school and college students, recently naturalized citizens, and all Iowa citizens who have that right. Watch for the League being active in your community.

Bonnie Pitz,
State president,
League of Women Voters Iowa

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