Hurray, Election Day is finally here and the political ads will hopefully be nothing more than a distant obnoxious memory!
That being the case though, we thought it would be fun to share a little known fact about the Iowa Constitution for those on their way to and from the polls. Election Day is also Stay Out of Jail Free Day; kind of.
Article 2 Section 2 of the Iowa Constitution states: "Electors shall, in all cases except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest on the days of election, during their attendance of such election, going to and returning therefrom." "Elector" means person who may vote.
Article 3 Section 11 states: "Senators and Representatives, in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of peace, shall be privileged from arrest during the session of the general assembly and going to and returning from the same."
The purpose of these constitutional provisions should be fairly clear, to avoid undue and unwarranted harassment against the voting public on Election Day and against members of the House and Senate while they are in session. It is a constitutional assurance that our political process will go on uninterrupted but for the commission of most serious crimes.
The plain language of these constitutional provision may leave one wondering, what would happen if an individual were arrested for a misdemeanor such as Possession of Marijuana or Operating While Intoxicated, either on the way to, or from, the polls? Applying the plain language, the arrest would arguably be illegal. Taking it one step further, a citation has been equated to an arrest by the Iowa Supreme Court in certain circumstances, thus an argument could be made that we cannot be given speeding tickets in our rush to vote or return from voting nor can members of the House of Senate receive citations on the way to or from General Assembly sessions.
Just a little food for thought and something to ponder as you push mute on the hopefully final political ads this year and one more reason to get out and vote!