Aggressive, Skillful and Experienced Defense

Iowa's confusing felon voting policies on trial in Keokuk

Among the rights we are taught to hold dear in the United States is the right to vote. Many might argue that the sense of privilege that has long been associated with that right has been replaced by a general sense of apathy. A lot of people just don't bother to go to the polls. Turnout may be bad in major election years, and even worse in off years.

Then, there are those who would like to vote but can't for some reason. Maybe they aren't citizens. Perhaps they have faced criminal charges and been convicted of a crime that makes them ineligible. 

Most states, including Iowa, have laws that make it illegal to cast a ballot if you have been convicted of a felony. That being the case, it is always advisable for those facing charges to seek the help of an attorney.

Indeed, Iowa's policies in this regard are considered by many to be among the harshest and most confusing in the country. The rules have changed three times in the past 10 years.

Just how confusing the issue may be is on display now by virtue of a trial in Keokuk. The case involves a 40-year-old former drug offender. She was convicted of a drug felony charge in 2008 and had recently completed five years of probation. Last November, her town of 878 people was holding municipal elections and she went to the polls.

In filling out the form, she checked the box confirming she was not an ineligible felon and voted. Several days later, police questioned her and she wound up being charged with perjury. Now she is on trial.

At issue is Iowa's policy that requires felons to apply to the governor to have voting rights restored. In 2005, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack dropped the policy by executive order, but it was restored in 2011 by Gov. Terry Branstad.

During her testimony today, the defendant said she wasn't aware of Branstad's action. She said she had been told by her attorney in 2008 that her right to vote would be restored after her five-year probation had ended and that was the information she was operating under when she voted.

Final arguments and jury deliberations are expected to begin tomorrow in the case.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Former Iowa felon says she believed she could vote," Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, March 19, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

contact us FOR a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

IOWA Association for justice IOWA state bar association NACDL 1958 national association of criminal defense lawyers american association for justice board certified specialist DUI defense law the iowa state bar association

Notable Case Work

Attorney Thomas Farnsworth's client was arrested for multiple charges after being pulled over for an OWI 3rd offense. Mr. Farnsworth ....

Read More

faq

Should I take a breath test?
The most common question asked of criminal defense lawyers who work on Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Driving While...

Can I get a work permit or temporary restricted license in Iowa after losing my driving privileges for an OWI?
For a first offense, yes. The revocation is this instance is 180 days for an OWI test failure and one year for an OWI test refusal...

Read More

Get In Touch

J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
425 2nd Street South East
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

Cedar Rapids Criminal Law Office

J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
103 East College Street
Iowa City, IA 52240

Iowa City Criminal Law Office

J Dean Keegan Thomas DS Farnsworth Keegan Legal

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business.