Political stunt could endanger voting rights

Voting and being able to hold public office are cornerstones of our democracy. People should not lose these rights except when they commit treason or serious criminal offenses. We do not believe drunk driving rises to this level.

In Iowa, a primary fight between Democrats vying for a state Senate seat has created a stir over eligibility for public office. One candidate says another’s second DWI conviction constitutes an “infamous crime.” If so, candidate Tony Bisignano would be disqualified from the race.

Beyond this matter, there are broader implications. If aggravated misdemeanors are “infamous,” then tens of thousands of Iowans could lose their voting rights, simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana or driving with a revoked license, among other crimes. This clearly isn’t right, nor is it something Iowa state lawmakers or election officials have ever intended. Rather, only felons have lost their voting rights.

The case involving Bisignano is in district court, and his opponent has said he will appeal the matter all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court, if necessary. To us, this seems like a cheap political stunt that is a waste of state resources. That is what Iowa’s highest court should and – we believe – will conclude.