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Voter registration challenge hearing set for April 10

Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:54 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2014 5:02 p.m. CDT

Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott has announced the time, date and location for a public hearing to determine the eligibility of a former Iowa House of Representatives candidate's voter registration.

Jon Van Wyk and two Newton men who have challenged his voter registration in Jasper County will have a hearing before Parrott at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in Room 203 of the Jasper County Courthouse. That room typically serves as the meeting place for the Jasper County Board of Supervisors.

When Van Wyk filed his candidacy papers on March 10 with the Office of Secretary of State, he also turned in a completed voter registration form that identified he was living at 802 Fourth St. in Sully. That address is where his family's business, Van Wijk Winery, is located.

State law prohibits the use of a commercial property as a address for voter registration purposes, unless it is where the citizen is sleeping at night. Officials with the Office of Secretary of State said the intent of the law is to allow homeless people to give an approximate location of where they sleep at night when they register to vote.

In an earlier interview with the Daily News about his residency, Van Wyk said he was in the process of moving from his home in Clive in the western portion of Polk County to Sully. He said he is a part owner of the former church building he has worked to remodel into a future bed and breakfast and reception hall.

Van Wyk said in that interview, which was conducted via email at his request, the move was not yet completed as of last week.

"This move to Sully is taking place presently, as I just finished the construction on the bedroom and bathroom at the winery's residence," he said. "This is a temporary and transitional situation for me as we go through the process of selling and buying houses."

Van Wyk ended his campaign for House District 28 because of objections to his candidacy based on his residency. Iowa law does not require a candidate live in district he or she is running for until the final 60 days before the General Election.

In Van Wyk's case, however, some of the objections noted his use of the Sully address on his nomination forms.

The challenges to Van Wyk's registration, submitted to the Jasper County Auditor's Office by Roger Barr and Gabriel Swersie of Newton, also questioned his residency. Swersie's, in particular, suggested Van Wyk knowingly put false information on the form.

The form itself states knowingly providing false information on a voter registration form is perjury, a Class D felony. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.

Parrott said the hearing will be an opportunity for both sides to provide evidence regarding the validity of Van Wyk's voter registration. It is not a criminal proceeding, but rather an administrative hearing.

"We will hear from both sides. They can each present evidence or witnesses," he said. "Then, after [weighing] a preponderance of the evidence, we will issue a written ruling."

Any criminal charges would be solely at the discretion of County Attorney Mike Jacobsen, who will also participate in the April 10 hearing. Deputy County Auditor for Elections Tina Mulgrew will also take part.

The hearing will be open to the public and held in accordance with 48A.14 of the Code of Iowa.

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