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.