After 2½ years of delays, a prosecutor has dropped an election misconduct charge against an ex-felon accused of illegally voting in the 2012 presidential election. Jefferson County Attorney Timothy Dille said Wednesday that he concluded the case against Cheri Rupe, 43, “wasn’t something that needed to be pursued” any longer. He said he made his decision in the interest of justice, citing the amount of time that had lapsed and noting that a similar case last year ended in an acquittal. The dismissal is another setback for a state effort to criminally punish ineligible voters who participated — or tried to participate — in elections. Under a two-year investigation involving former Secretary of State Matt Schultz and the Division of Criminal Investigation, about two dozen people, including ex-felons and non-U.S. citizens, were charged with registering and/or voting illegally.
… Rupe was convicted of a felony drug charge, possession of a precursor, in Wapello County in 2008 and lost her voting rights. After getting treatment and completing community service, Rupe was discharged from probation in June 2011.
Under the Iowa policy in place from July 2005 through 2010, Rupe would have automatically regained her voting rights at that point. But Republican Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order changing the policy in January 2011, requiring ex-felons to complete a lengthy application process through his office to get their rights back. A tiny fraction of thousands of eligible ex-felons have done so.