Iowa secretary of state expects voter fraud investigation results soon

Detractors wonder if fraud is significant problem in Iowa

James Q. Lynch
Published: August 8 2013 | 2:34 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 6:49 pm in
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After a couple of “hiccups” getting started, a state investigation into voter fraud is “moving in the right direction” and Iowans will begin seeing results soon, according to Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

“We had a couple of setbacks, but we’re doing the best we can,” the first-term Republican said while in Coralville Wednesday.

Shortly after the investigation began, a Division of Criminal Investigation agent assigned to look into voter fraud allegations was called to active duty in the National Guard and a second agent had to be assigned to the cases.

“It’s been like trying to use a shovel to move a mountain,” he said. “Quite frankly, we could use more resources, but I anticipate having answers soon.”

The investigation has not been without detractors. Chief among them is Democrat Brad Anderson, who wants Schultz’s job. Anderson, who worked for former Gov. Chet Culver and was state director of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, has called the investigation a waste.

“Look,” Anderson said Thursday, “any secretary of state should be diligent about going after voter fraud. But he should go about it without disenfranchising voters.”

Anderson prefers to detect voter fraud or other irregularities at the front end – when Iowans attempt to vote – through the use of expanded electronic poll books “rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money after the fact.”

He also noted that Schultz’s investigation has yet to produce a single conviction.

“Trust me,” Schultz said, “I hate sitting back and not having results right now. But I’m confident in the DCI and its ability, and I’m confident that we will have results.”

Results Anderson would like to see are more Iowans voting. Rather than make voter fraud his sole focus, he said Schultz should spend more time and effort getting the 600,000 eligible voters who didn’t participate in the 2012 election to the polls.

As to Schultz’s suggestion that there is a “mountain” of voter fraud, “I leave that up to him to prove,” Anderson said.

“There’re certainly a lot of potential cases,” Schultz said, explaining that in 2010, there were 3,582 potential non-citizens registered with more than 1,000 of them casting ballots.

“I’ve always taken the approach that I don’t want to accuse somebody who is a citizen of committing a crime,” Schultz said. “There were more 3,000 cases to look at, so I do believe that is a mountain.”

Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert hasn’t seen a mountain of voter fraud in his seven months in office. The key is the voter’s intent – whether they meant to commit fraud.

“I’ll be curious to see what his investigation provides us,” Weipert said after meeting with Schultz Wednesday.

In Linn County, Auditor Joel Miller said that since the November 2012 election 100 election misconduct cases have investigated by the Sheriff’s Office. So far, there is court action pending on four and three people have been convicted.

He’s looking forward to the results of the DCI investigation so he can update his voter registration rolls.

“I don’t think any auditor wants people who are not eligible to vote on their lists,” Miller said. “I don’t see why anyone would think it’s OK for a non-citizen to vote. My wife is from Ecuador and I’m pretty sure if I went to vote when we’re down there I would end up in jail.”

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