On Election Day in 2013, I took my four children with me to watch me register to vote and cast my ballot in a city election in my small town in Iowa. Earlier that day, my daughter's class learned about the meaning of democracy and the importance of elections.

Two months after I cast my ballot as a civics lesson for my daughter, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation agents parked across the street from my house, questioned me, and eventually arrested me and charged me with voter fraud.

Let me explain: When I was convicted on a nonviolent drug charge in 2008, my defense attorney told me that once I served my probation, I would regain my right to vote automatically – correct information at the time. But Gov. Terry Branstad suddenly changed the rules in 2011, and now all citizens with a felony conviction lose their voting rights for life. Our Secretary of State Matt Schultz, in fact, has made this subversion of democracy a point of pride. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hunting down and prosecuting people with past convictions who unknowingly registered or cast a vote.

Including me.

I explained that I did not know about the rule change, but the local county attorney insisted on prosecuting me, spending thousands of taxpayers' money to try to send me to jail – away from my husband and young children for up to 15 years. Knowing that I had not committed a crime, I withstood the crippling expense and emotional roller coaster of a trial instead of accepting a plea deal for a crime I knew I did not commit. Finally, three months later, I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. It only took them 40 minutes to come to that decision. I cried with relief as I heard the verdict.

I'm the mom of four wonderful children. I volunteer at my children's schools and a women's crisis center. I speak to domestic violence survivors to support and encourage them. I have overcome a lot in my life, including a destructive prior marriage and a dependency that led to the nonviolent felony drug conviction in 2008. I'm not proud of some parts of my history, but I am proud that I managed to turn my life around and find happiness in my family, my accomplishments, and what I can now offer my community.

Now I filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU, not for any money or reward, but just so that I – and others in my situation – are simply allowed to vote.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube.com.

Learn more about voter disfranchisement and other civil liberty issuesSign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (86)
Read the Terms of Use


I want some of them dead. I don't even care anymore. Look me up and arrest me for saying it. I don't give a shit. I want at least one of them dead and I hope it takes him 4 days to go.
I was Republican until 3 days ago, because I was raised in the Republican way, but the Republican Party as it USED to be disappeared in 2010, and anybody who thinks it hasn't can stuff it bc they're dead wrong. Before buildings and ideas and businesses became "people who could spend money on electing their favored party" everyone had a chance to vote. Now THEIR despicable, disgusting selves are the ONLY ones who seem able to do so.

A bully is nothing but a scared little boy, terrified little girl, and they have nothing I've EVER wanted.
It used to be that they cared about MOST people. Now they don't care if Adam Lanza has a gun, people get shot down in malls and schools all over America, people get bullied or killed for being gay, and nobody in my family was EVer - EVER - that way.
My dad used to say you don't disrespect a president just because you don't like him. You vote him out the NORMAL way and NOT by being a big stupid bully. Like there's anything freakin' impressive about that. No the hell way. You're just like everyone else and there's NEVer going to be a damn thing "special" about you.
You're just another of the 10 million fools who call someone names when things dong go your way; really original that. smdh

"Pity the living, and above all those who live without love in their hearts." J.K Rowling


Wow. How is this not entirely unconstitutional?


She wasn't convicted under the new law, how can they change what was done in the past?


this is 100% ridiculous. that prosecutor obviously had it in for this woman. she should be paid back every penny her family spent to defend her and that prosecutor should be fired immediately. I had a non violent felony in Missouri 24 years ago. iowa wont let me vote although Missouri immediately gave that right back to me when I finished probation. I wasn't even arrested in iowa. lol. classic stacking of the deck and controlling votes in iowa. of course iowa is antiquated in the way they handle a lot of things. they need to get out of the 70's around here and get up to speed. I own a business and I own farm land in iowa. I pay taxes and am law abiding but i'm not worthy of voting in this country. WAKE UP BRANDSTADT!!!!!!!!


What was the 'nonviolent drug charge?' That could be anything from smoking dope to dealing heroin.


Grow up and be an adult. Don't break the law. Be accountable to all your decisions, good and bad.


Thank you for your story relating your experience in trying to vote against obvious biased and unlawful acts by "Representatives" who have done everything to try and stop you and others from your right to vote.

I find it incredible that such a thing would even be countenanced...a Politician obviously wasting money and resources in trying to prosecute someone who has basically done nothing wrong or bad.

It is the politicians who waste taxpayer money and deny people such as yourself their basic rights that should be prosecuted for the very real crimes that they are committing from the actions they are taking and the "laws" they are making to hurt, hound and deny people the right to vote.

Ron Spain

Being arrested for voting is nearly as big an injustice as having one's life ruined just for HAVING CONSENSUAL SEX or just for DOWNLOADING PICTURES, though voting seems a pointless exercise of vanity when the same two crooked, fascist parties keep winning. Meanwhile, Americans are committing suicide because of persecution due to who they love; no one is killing himself due to inability to vote for lying, crooked politicians. Yet the ACLU does almost nothing about the oppression of love. I guess there are many issues more important to them than the right to love.


I guess you should have thought about that before you committed a felony. Cluebat: Convicted felons have grossly restricted rights in the United States.


Now you are no longer ignorant of the law. Convicted Felons, of which you are one, should lose their right to vote.



Stay Informed