A hearing in Des Moines on Wednesday centered around the residency of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. His voter registration was challenged by Ann Gale as she claims Whitver doesn’t actually live at the Grimes address, but instead still lives in Ankeny with the rest of his family.
“I believe that the citizens of Iowa Senate District 23 deserve to be represented by someone who actually lives in the district,” she said at Wednesday’s hearing. “This is not merely a partisan issue. I believe that Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independent voters all deserve a Senator who cares enough about the district to live in it. It’s a matter of following Iowa law.”
Neither Whitver nor his wife, Rachel, showed up for the hearing. Whitver did provide a sworn affidavit, however.
A person called Emma Weinert, who was a campaign volunteer for Todd Brady, reaffirmed her sworn affidavit in which she said Rachel Whitver told her the “family” still lives at the Ankeny residence when Weinert knocked on the door during the campaign on Oct. 9. When asked if her husband was home, Rachel Whitver said not yet.
The attorney for Gale also claimed water bills for the Grimes apartment show no usage until October. She also had photos of Whitver’s social media accounts and a bio to his professional page — all of which listed him as living in Ankeny. All three of Whitver’s business filings on the Secretary of State’s website also still list his Ankeny address.
Finally, according to Gale’s lawyer, the subpoenas issued to both Jack and Rachel Whitver were accepted by Rachel at the Ankeny address.
Whitver’s attorney said social media doesn’t dictate voter registration, so those exhibits should not matter. He also said nobody disputes the fact that Whitver’s family still resides at the Ankeny home while Whitver himself lives at the Grimes apartment.
Whitver said in his affidavit he moved into the Grimes apartment on Sept. 4. Gale’s lawyer, though, said Whitver’s own water bill shows no water was used from Sept. 4-9.
Iowa law requires candidates to live in the district they plan to represent 60 days before the election.
Whitver’s lawyer also provided printouts of Apple Maps showing Whitver has been at the Grimes apartment at various times of the night.
They also provided photos of packages delivered at the Grimes resident and utility charges with increasing usage since September.
Polk County Auditor Scott Fitzgerald closed the hearing and said he would release his decision later.
Interestingly, according to Gale’s lawyer, Whitver had voted in every election — municipal, school, primary and general — since 2004 except for this year’s primary and general elections when he was on the ballot along with some of his Senate colleagues seeking higher office — such as Zach Nunn and Roby Smith. Governor Kim Reynolds was also on the ballot, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley.
If Iowa Democrats want to start insisting that the letter of Iowa code regarding elections in the state be followed to the point that an elected official is required to uproot his family from their school district after the legislature redistricts and is for some reason not allowed to legally live in a bare bones bachelor pad apartment without running water , they might end up disappointed about how the precedent turns out.
Does Iowa code 53.1 even permit “No-Excuse” absentee voting in the state? I’m not entirely convinced it does. If there was some reason 30% of Iowans expected to be unable or prevented from being present at their precinct polls on election day that sounds like a much larger problem. Was there some sort of public health emergency or voter suppression campaign no one told me about?