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During the school year, a representative from LULAC was allowed to speak to every student in the freshman and junior class at Des Moines Lincoln High School. LULAC is the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa. According to its website, it was created at a time in America’s history when Hispanics were “denied basic civil and human rights, despite contributions to American society.”

The individual speaking on behalf of LULAC talked at length about voting laws and “restrictions.”

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He told the students that in 2013 it was decided America no longer had to deal with racism or no longer had racism, sexism or any form of inequality, and protections against “any type of racism” were “struck down by the Supreme Court.”

Shortly after, he said a number of states enacted laws to restrict the right to vote.

“That made it difficult for people of color especially to vote,” he said. “Even here in Iowa we’ve had to deal with a number of restrictions, which have made it difficult for us to vote here in Iowa.”

He referenced an effort in 2012 by former Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The speaker said Schultz was attempting to remove voters from the voting rolls who had Latino last names and Schultz assumed were illegal.

Then, he continued, Iowa passed additional restrictions in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

“Each time we had to take the state of Iowa to court because there was a continued movement to make it more difficult,” he said.

Photo ID laws, he said, have been particularly difficult because the ID must be a particular ID, it cannot be a school ID, he said.

LULAC’s representative then lamented the fact voters used to be able to vote early up to 40 days prior to an election. Then it was cut to 29 days and now it has been reduced to 20. And polls are now open until 8 p.m., not 9 p.m. like in some previous elections.

“We know that our families work long hours,” he said. “Sometimes they can’t make it to the polls. This recent bill has now reduced the hours of voting from 7 (a.m.) until 9 p.m. to 7 (a.m.) until 8 p.m. So it’s one hour less. So it’s going to be hard to vote if they’re working multiple jobs or long hours.”

Previously LULAC would work with “community members” and their families to help them fill out the ballot, he said.

“We would work with community members and their families to help them fill out their ballots,” he said. “Help them put them into an envelope and take them to an election office. This new law now states that we can no longer work with our community members, work with our families that we know who need to vote early, who need help. We are being told that we can’t do that unless we live in their house. Major, major restriction.”

After blasting Republican-passed election laws, the LULAC representative also said this:

“Dealing with now too this year is, we’re dealing with a state legislature that wants to decide what you read and what your teacher can provide you in a classroom,” he said.

Unless we vote this year, he continued, some of these laws will be enacted and signed by the Governor and, according to the LULAC representative, make it hard on all the students.

According to a handout from the presentation, it was entitled “Why are we fighting the voter suppression law in Iowa? It is markedly more difficult to vote!”

The handout stated that Senate File 413, the 2021 “Iowa Voter Suppression” law as it was called on the handout, did the following:

*Cuts back on mail-in or absentee voting, the time within which people can request an absentee ballot (from 120 days to 70 days) and the time when one will be mailed to them;
*Prohibits county auditors from “proactively assisting” people in voting and “thus participating in our democracy;”
*Reduces the time from three hours to two hours that an employer must allow employees time off to vote — “effectively precluding many wage earners from voting due to the predictably longer lines at polling places that the shortened hours and other changes will cause;”
*Removes registered voters from voter registration lists if they miss just one general election.
*Prohibits “trusted people” from delivering an absentee ballot to the county auditor for another person unless the person is a household or an immediate family member or caretaker or specially appointed official.

The handout states there is a “total lack of a factual basis” for the measures that “justifies” the accusation the law is a “voter suppression measure, pure and simple.”

“Given this country’s history of devising ways to deny the vote to African Americans and other people of color, it’s not rocket science to know these changes will have an adverse impact on voters of color,” the document states.

The handout states LULAC accepts “none” of the explanations from lawmakers and Gov. Kim Reynolds about the bill being centered on “election integrity.”

“Concerns about ‘fraud’ and ‘irregularities’ and the need for ‘integrity’ were spawned by the outright and incessant lies of the former President and his allies that were belied by numerous investigations and the results of more than sixty (60) challenges in courts across the country, in which not a single court — many of whose judges were nominated by Donald Trump — found any evidence of fraud,” the document states.

The document states that Iowa Sen. Jason Schultz said the changes made by the legislation were necessary to address “shady dealings” in “heavily black cities in swing states where voters helped defeat Donald Trump.”

“In addition to not being true, this type of commentary reeks of pre-civil-rights-movement-suppression,” the document says.

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Author: Jacob Hall

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