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IA: Top election official continues voter fraud hunt despite lack of evidence

By   /   August 17, 2012  /   7 Comments

By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog

DES MOINES – Efforts by Iowa’s top election official to uncover voter fraud may prove difficult.

A new study analyzed 2,068 alleged cases of voter fraud nationwide and found only 10 cases related to voter impersonation, according to the research from a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative.

Iowa had no such cases. Here, Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz has vowed to put a voter ID law in place and prove fraud in the state does exist.

Schultz, 33, has yet to produce such results since taking office in 2011, despite his expansive efforts to purge voter rolls, which led to a lawsuit brought by two civil rights groups.

“When you enact these voter ID laws it will basically change the outcome of an election in favor of Republicans by one or two percentage points,” said Seth Masket, an associate political science professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. “Usually, it’s not enough to affect the outcome of the election. But in a close race like this year’s presidential election, it can make a difference.”

Iowa is among the 36 states to pass or propose a voter ID law in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The push for voter ID laws, which is most prevalent in swing states, hasn’t come from one group. Instead, it’s been largely led by Republican office holders and conservative activist groups. Oftentimes, the efforts have been viewed as highly partisan, Masket said.

Those who favor the laws say they prevent voter impersonation and improve the integrity of elections. Those opposing them argue they prevent minorities, college students and the poor from voting. They also say no evidence of such fraud exists, which is what the study funded by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative showed.

Schultz’s office did not return phone calls seeking comment, but he said in a recent news release his only intent is to “work for integrity and honesty in elections.”

“That is what the people of Iowa hired me to do and I take it as a serious responsibility,” he added.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz

The ACLU of Iowa and League of United Latin American Citizens this month took legal action after Schultz quietly enacted emergency rules allowing his office to remove ineligible people from Iowa’s voter-registration list. They also remove requirements for Iowans to swear to the truth of their statements when alleging voter fraud.

Additionally, Schultz hired an investigator this month from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to find voter fraud. The cost of the investigation has not been disclosed.

“It’s over the edge,” said Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg. “If there are cases of fraud they should be passed on to county attorney for litigation. DCI already has so many of its own issues to resolve. There are 50 some registered sex offenders who we don’t know where they are at. We are better off chasing them than some voter.”

State lawmakers have criticized Schultz’s action, saying he decided without their input, or the public’s. Kibbie has publicly questioned whether it violates a federal law requiring a state to complete efforts to remove the names of ineligible voters no later than 90 days before a general election.

“Matt Schultz is the most partisan Secretary of State in Iowa’s history,” said Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls; he has been heavily involved in improving voting laws in the state. “Every idea he has offered has been a top-down, my-way or the highway approach. He has failed to work with county auditors and hasn’t been interested in any compromise on how to make our elections safer and more efficient.”

Some county auditors also expressed concern — they are responsibe for vetting voter lists so close to the general election in November.

The relationship among auditors and Schultz has been strained since the secretary unseated Democrat incumbent Michael Mauro, a former county auditor. Schultz, however, had no experience, something he acknowledged during his campaign, said Carol Robertson, Mills County auditor and president of the Iowa State Association of County Attorneys.

Auditors were able to put politics aside when Mauro was in office. He had support of both Republicans and Democrats. Schultz has been unable to gain the same bipartisan support, she said.

“I was really hoping this year that I might be able to bring that partnership together and get this resolved,” Robertson said. “But I haven’t and, therefore, we aren’t getting any legislation passed. Legislators want us to be on the same page. Matt is very partisan, and he’s not afraid to admit that.”

Contact Sheena Dooley at dooley@iowawatchdog.org

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Sheena Dooley

  • http://www.facebook.com/Chatauqua50309 Max Knauer

    Nice report, Sheena; wondering whether we have a good potential candidate to start campaigning in January to relieve Mr. Schultz, in 2014, of the burden of his twisted and contorted philosophy of public responsibility. His approach to outreach among Republican County Auditors has been one of bullying with the threat of pulling in money to fund primary opponents with similar “vision” and training to that which prepared Mr. Schultz for the challenges and responsibilities of his job – that’s campaign dollars from the Koch brothers or other similar well-heeled billionaires hoping to suppress voting nationwide.

  • BBQ Lee

    I for one favor voter ID in all 50 states. You want to vote show your ID that your a resident of your state and legal to vote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Chatauqua50309 Max Knauer

    Lee, it would be interesting to sit/chat about these differences; perhaps one of us would be the more persuasive. Or not. Will contact you directly, sir. Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1525005229 Rosemary Meling

    “Those opposing them argue they prevent minorities, college students and the poor from voting.” This is an absurd argument. Having been poor and having been a college student I can assure you that ID is NOT hard to obtain and frequently called for if you ARE poor or a student. I also fail to see why being a minority would make you unable to get ID. Are you implying that minorities are somehow incompetent? With so many illegals – of multiple races and nationalities – it does make it difficult to know who is a legitimate voter. Better to stop the fraud before it becomes rampant than after. It’s silly to shut the barn door after the horses have already escaped.

  • Nancy

    It’s easy to forget that there are other life experiences than our own. My mother-in-law, an African American woman born in Virginia had no birth certificate. She was born at home, and at that time many southern states did not issue birth certificates for blacks. Although she worked all her life, when she retired, it took nearly a year for her to get her first social security payment because she didn’t have a birth certificate. All she had was a birth certificate and her marriage license. We had to go through all kinds of hoops to finallly get her social security. She never would have gotten it without our help. Not all things are as simple or easy as they appear.
    Another more recent situation…the son of a friend of mine (also African-American) went to register to vote in South Carolina this year. He had a certified copy of his birth certificate with him when he went to the election office. They wouldn’t accept it. He was told he must have a medical doctor sign off in order for him to register. He had just moved to the city (hence, needed to re-register to vote) and didn’t have a primary physician yet. He went to a walk in clinic to see a doctor, even though he was not sick. A doctor who had never seen him before, filled out a clinic appointment form and charged him $80. He took that form to the election office and they then registered him to vote right away. Ever heard of a poll tax? Well, this essentially is a new poll tax. He was of the means to pay it. Many others are not.
    Please understand, getting a voter ID can be much more complicated than most people would think, particularly us Caucasions!

  • Nancy

    correction…I meant all she had was her baptism certificate and her marriage license..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Healy/100000675547280 Bill Healy

    Not shocked that republican’s just don’t accept the facts that there is no widespread voter fraud,