Update: Convicted Felon First In Iowa To Go On Trial For Illegally Voting

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

A judge is ordering an aide to Gov. Terry Branstad be made available for a deposition before the perjury trial of an ex-felon charged with illegally voting can begin in Keokuk, Iowa.

Judge Mary Ann Brown said Thursday defendant Kelli Jo Griffin has the right to depose governor's office assistant Rebecca Elming before trial, which has been delayed until March 19th. The ruling comes after Elming skipped a deposition by Griffin's attorney last week on the advice of the Iowa Attorney General's Office.

The 40-year-old Griffin is accused of lying on a voter registration form when she attested that she was not an ineligible felon. Prosecutors say Gov. Branstad hadn't restored Griffin's voting rights after a 2008 drug conviction.

Elming is expected to testify about the governor's power to restore voting rights and how the office keeps those records. Iowa is one of four states in which former offenders must apply to the governor to regain their voting rights. A two-year criminal investigation into election misconduct has resulted in several ex-Iowa felons being charged, but Griffin would be the first to have a trial.

Meanwhile, a judge says Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn't appear to be U.S. citizens.

Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg delivered a victory to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which sued Schultz over the rule he tried to pass as an emergency just before the November 2012 general election. The proposal was stopped, but Schultz then created a permanent rule in March 2013.

Rosenberg said in his ruling Wednesday that state law does not authorize Schultz to create a rule that would cancel a voter's registration based on citizenship questions. Rosenberg said the rule is stricken and prohibits Schultz from taking any action pursuant to the rule.

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