Last week, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced the state was filing charges in nine additional voter fraud cases — all concerning felons who voted in the 2012 general election without having had their voting rights restored. We’ve already opined repeatedly against Schultz’s instance on playing Captain Ahab to what he views as the White Whale of statewide voter fraud. And so far — despite Schultz’s having pledged to spend more than a quarter-million dollars on such investigations — that White Whale has seemed more like a minnow. And we’ve likewise opined repeatedly against Gov. Terry Branstad’s issuing an executive order to stop Iowa from automatically restoring the voting rights of felons once they have paid their debt to society. Branstad’s order nullified the one issued by his predecessor, Tom Vilsack, and created an incredibly complicated situation for determining which ex-felons have the right to vote and which ex-felons, if they cast a vote, risk committing yet another felony.
So Schultz’s announcement last week makes it seem like he’s fishing for his White Whale in a stocked pond. Rather than find evidence of widespread voter impersonation — the imagined rationale behind Schultz’s advocacy for new voter ID laws — the vast majority of the charges filed have been against felons who vote even though they are on the wrong side of that blurry, jagged line.
But it seems Schultz can’t figure out for himself who is on the right and wrong side of that divide. Before the 2012 election, Schultz’s office issued a list of about 46,000 names of felons who supposedly were ineligible to vote. At least three names — probably more — were on the list incorrectly.