WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) filed a petition for declaratory order with the Iowa secretary of state asking for clarification about whether the office can use and accept Spanish-language voting materials and forms, specifically the National Mail Voter Registration Form, the State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form and the State of Iowa Official Absentee Ballot Request Form. The secretary now has 60 days to respond, after which legal action can be brought.
The petition asks for clarification around Iowa’s “English-Only Law,” which states that all political documents from the state “shall be in the English language.” Beyond a vague court ruling in 2008, the Iowa secretary of state has not provided county officials or the public any clear guidance about whether officially translated, non-English voting materials are permissible. Because of this uncertainty, Iowa election officials exclusively provide English-language voting materials across the state (except for in two counties covered by the Voting Rights Act that must provide translated materials, one of which must provide Spanish-language materials). LULAC asserts that the lack of officially translated Spanish-language forms and guidance is overly burdensome for the state’s largest language minority population. The petition asks the Iowa secretary of state to provide officially translated Spanish-language materials in all counties.