Beware organized voter fraud

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 4 2012 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 2:55 am in
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By The Gazette Editorial Board

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We’ve been generally supportive, with some qualifications, of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s efforts to make sure all the votes being cast in state and local elections are legal and valid.

Schultz has focused mostly on the possibility of individual fraud, searching voter roles for noncitizens and other ineligible voters, and requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Recently, he called for a signature verification system for absentee ballots.

Some non-citizen voters have turned up in Iowa, but individual fraud remains, thankfully, rare.

Schultz is making some progress, but we also think he should broaden his view.

The months and weeks leading up to Election Day saw a number of troubling reports of organized voter fraud across the country, in which so-called political services firms and consultants were accused of shady activities that had the potential to impact larger numbers of voters.

Voters in Florida, Virginia and Indiana received phone calls telling them, falsely, that they could vote by phone and skip going to their precinct. Some voters in Florida were visited by people claiming to be authorized to pick up their absentee ballots.

Several investigations are focused on Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm hired, and then fired, by the Republican National Committee and several state GOP committees, which is accused of questionable conduct in multiple states. In Virginia, an employee of the firm has been accused of tossing voter registration forms completed by Democrats into a recycling bin.

In Florida, investigators are looking into possible fake absentee ballot requests submitted by Strategic Allied employees. Colorado is also looking into the firm’s conduct.

These and other reports from across the country would seem to pose a potentially larger threat to the integrity of elections than a single voter breaking the law. Bad actors supporting either party are capable of this type of fraudulent activity, and it could happen anywhere. Including Iowa.

Some of these activities are covered by existing laws, as are acts of individual voter fraud. It’s a matter of emphasis and vigilance, and we think more of the secretary’s resources and energy should be aimed at keeping Iowa free of organized fraud.

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