An 18-month investigation into voter fraud that has cost nearly $150,000 has led to charges against 16 people in Iowa, many of whom said they mistakenly registered or believed they were eligible to vote. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who launched the investigation and has made ballot security a key issue, said the results show that voter fraud is a problem. But his critics scoff at that argument, saying the investigation confirmed that misconduct is insignificant in Iowa, where about 2.1 million people are registered to vote. Schultz, a Republican, signed a two-year deal with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation in July 2012 to assign an agent to investigating voter fraud cases fulltime. The contract allowed him to pay as much as $280,000 for the investigations. Five cases have been dismissed, while five others were resolved in guilty pleas. As part of the plea deals, three people paid fines, one received a suspended sentence and probation, and one is serving five years in prison for perjury and identity theft. So far no cases have gone to trial, though two cases’ trials are pending.
Schultz told The Des Moines Register that the results prove the existence of voter fraud in Iowa and bolster his case for more scrutiny at the polls and verification of voters. “Before, the narrative was that there’s no such thing as voter fraud,” he said. “That’s obviously changed. Iowans expect us to do something when we know there’s a problem.”
Ballot access advocates and Schultz’s critics said the results prove that voter misconduct is statistically insignificant and that it’s generally the result of misunderstandings, not fraud.
“Nationally and in Iowa, we just do not see that voter fraud is a big issue,” said Bonnie Pitz, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Iowa. “The activities from Secretary of State Schultz have just been intimidating.”
Full Article: Controversy surrounds Iowa voter fraud investigations.