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Allison v. Vilsack

This case is a challenge to Iowa’s Executive Order No. 42, which restored voting rights to approximately 80,000 Iowans who had fully served their criminal sentences by July 4, 2005.

Published: October 27, 2005

Allison v. Vilsack
Voting After Criminal Conviction

On July 4, 2005, Governor Thomas Vilsack of Iowa issued Executive Order No. 42 , which restored voting rights to the approximately 80,000 Iowans who had fully served their criminal sentences by that date. It also put in place a mechanism for ongoing restoration as others complete their sentences in the future.

Until July 2005, Iowa law permanently barred all citizens with felony convictions from voting. The law applied even to those who had completed their sentences, unless they had received discretionary clemency. As a result, more than 100,000 Iowans were ineligible to vote because of a prior conviction; more than 80,000 of these citizens had served their sentences and been discharged from probation or parole.

On June 30, 2005, before the Executive Order had been issued, the Muscatine County Attorney filed a Petition for Order of Mandamus and requested a temporary injunction, barring Governor Vilsack from issuing any order while the action was pending. On that same day, the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County denied the request.

The Governor filed in opposition to the County’s petition and made a motion to dismiss on July 14, 2005. The court denied the Governor’s motion to dismiss and scheduled a hearing on the County’s petition for August 31, 2005.

The Governor then filed a motion for summary judgment on August 22, 2005, and the County filed a response to the Governor’s motion together with a cross-motion for summary judgment three days later.

The Brennan Center drafted an amicus brief in support of the Governor and submitted a motion to appear as amicus curiae. Unfortunately, the trial court denied the motion and refused to consider the Center’s brief.

The judge heard oral arguments by conference call on August 31, 2005, and on October 27, 2005, the judge upheld Governor Vilsack’s order.



Brennan Center Amicus Brief

Other Amici

Press Center