Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is facing a challenge to his voter registration from a resident who says Whitver does not live at the address where he is registered as a voter.
Whitver, a Republican, was reelected to Iowa’s Senate District 23 earlier this month. The district includes Grimes and parts of rural Polk and Dallas counties.
Grimes resident Ann Gale has filed a challenge to Whitver’s voter registration, alleging that Whitver still lives in Ankeny with his wife and children and not in Grimes as he claims on his voter registration.
“This challenge is a frivolous attempt by Democrats to attempt to overturn an election,” Whitver’s spokesman Caleb Hunter said in a statement. “While Democratic campaigners tried to make this an issue during the campaign, voters in Senate District 23 refused.”
Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, a Democrat, will hold a hearing on the challenge at the Polk County Election Office on November 30.
Under Iowa law, district auditors are charged with deciding voter registration challenges. At the hearing, Fitzgerald will hear evidence and have the option to either dismiss the challenge or delete voter registration. Any decision Fitzgerald makes may be appealed to a judge in the Iowa District Court, whose decision would be final.
The challenge to Whitver includes an affidavit from a Democratic volunteer who knocked on the door on Oct. 9 for Democratic Senate nominee Todd Brady’s campaign. The volunteer says she knocked on the door of Whitver’s home in Ankeny and spoke to Whitver’s wife, who said her family still lived at the Ankeny address.
“Owning an apartment in SD23 is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Iowa Code if Mr. Whitver continues to actually live in his home in Ankeny,” Gale writes in her challenge.
Whitver was faced with questions about his residence ahead of the Nov. 8 election after a news report from KCRG-TV said he failed to pay for water at the Grimes residence, where Whitver is registered as a voter.
After the Iowa reelection process concluded late last year, Whitver said he intends to leave his home in Ankeny and seek re-election in Senate District 23.
The Iowa Constitution requires senators and state legislators to reside in their districts for at least 60 days before voting.
Whitver faced a residency challenge in March, but it was dismissed because Whitver did not need to live in the new county at the time. Whitver subsequently registered to vote at the Grimes address.
Polk County Assessor records show that Whitver still owns a home in Ankeny, as does the Grimes condominium where he is registered as a voter.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said in a statement that “Jack Whitver should follow the rules like the rest of us.”
“That is very easy. You must live in the district you are running for. This isn’t about politics, it’s about obeying the law,” Wilburn said. “No one is above the law in Iowa and it’s a shame to cheat the system just to stay in power.”
Whitver is the top Republican in the Iowa Senate. The GOP won a 34-16 supermajority in this month’s election.
Stephen Gruber-Miller reports on the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.