Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz defended his office Monday against what he says is unfair criticism after it was revealed that three northern Iowa voters had their ballots tossed out in the 2012 presidential election because they were wrongly classified as felons ineligible to vote. The three voters were required to cast provisional ballots when their names appeared in the database of felons. One man, Matthew Pace, appeared on a list of felons reported to the Secretary of State’s office by the Cerro Gordo County clerk of court in 2007. When he showed up to vote Nov. 6, 2012, his name was flagged and he was told he had to cast a provisional ballot. Cerro Gordo County election officials contacted the Secretary of State’s office to check the status of the voters with provisional ballots, and Schultz’s office confirmed the three individuals were on the felons list. Schultz, a Republican, frequently has faced criticism from Democrats and civil rights groups for his aggressive pursuit of voter fraud. His critics say his investigations intimidate immigrant and minority groups and scare many away from voting. Schultz has hired an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent to investigate the issue for two years at a cost of $280,000 in federal funds.
He issues frequent news releases when charges are brought against people accused of registering or voting illegally. However, the issue of the three voters’ disenfranchised was not made public until Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline, also a Republican, spoke out.
Schultz said in an eight-page report filed Monday with the committee that his office had no indication that the information in the list of felons was erroneous.
“Without any indication or report that the information was incorrect, the staff had no indication of a need to investigate further,” he said.
An investigation by an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent later determined that Pace had never been convicted of the felony charge and his vote should have been counted.
Full Article: Schultz fights criticism over 2012 rejected votes.