Iowa secretary of state won't appeal English-only ruling

// Published May 7, 2008 in Spencer Daily Reporter
Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro said Tuesday he won't appeal a judge's decision that voter registration forms must only be in English.

Mauro's office removed non-English voter forms from the secretary of state's Web site after the judge issued his ruling in March.

He said appealing the decision could take years and cost thousands of taxpayer dollars. Instead, Mauro said he would work with the Iowa attorney general's office to find alternatives for non-English speaking voters.

"It never was my intent not to comply with the law," Mauro said. Former Gov. Tom Vilsack signed the English-language law in 2002, specifying that all government communications must be in English. But current Gov. Chet Culver said the law allows for voter registration forms to be in multiple languages.

Polk County District Court Judge Douglas Staskal ruled that the non-English forms conflicted with the law, which was written by former state Sen. Steve King, who is now a congressman.

King and anti-immigration advocates filed a lawsuit in January 2007, claiming Mauro placed voter information on his official Web site in Spanish, Bosnian, Vietnamese and Laotian.

The Iowa attorney general's office released a statement Tuesday that said the Legislature should change the law and allow voter registration forms to be in languages other than English.

"We will work with the secretary of state and county auditors on how election officials, within the bounds of the decision, can assist non-English speaking Iowans in exercising their right to vote," the statement read.

"We also will be reviewing the decision and considering how it relates to other documents and materials provided by state and local government agencies in languages other than English."