Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Thursday, November 2, 2006.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699

Statement of the Attorney General's Office

Secretary of State has full authority to provide voter forms in languages in addition to English

Statement of the Attorney General's Office:

The plain language of Iowa law (Code Sec. 1.18, the "Iowa English language reaffirmation" section) permits the Secretary of State to provide ballot request forms or other documents in languages in addition to English.

The law states that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to . . . prohibit . . . an officer of state government . . . from communicating . . . in a language other than English, if that member or officer deems it necessary or desirable to do so." (Iowa Code sec. 1.18(5)(a).) We understand the Secretary of State deemed it necessary or desirable to provide voter materials in languages in addition to English. For example, the use of other languages can facilitate citizens exercising the Constitutional right to vote.

Furthermore, the bipartisan Voter Registration Commission rules that took effect in 1995 are consistent with the Secretary of State's decision to include materials in various languages. Their rules state that "any county commissioner may cause production of any approved voter registration form in a language other than English if the commissioner determines that such a form would be of value . . ."

For all these reasons, we believe the Secretary of State has full authority to provide voter forms in languages in addition to English.

[End of statement.]

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