Betty Carlson (L) helps her husband Keith Carlson, who is visually impaired, fill out his ballot during early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Looking for voter fraud, coming up empty

Updated
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) hasn’t exactly championed voting rights during his tenure. You may recall a story from last year, for example, in which Schultz characterized voting as a “privilege” the state can take away, rather than a right.
 
With this in mind, it didn’t come as too big a surprise when Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State launched an 18-month investigation into voter fraud in the state – at a cost of nearly $150,000 – that turned up very little. Indeed, Schultz, who has made “ballot security his signature issue since taking office,” was able to assign a full-time criminal investigator to do nothing except probe suspected voter fraud.
 
And after all that time, and all of that effort and expense, what’d Schultz turn up? Five instances of voter fraud that resulted in guilty pleas. Note, we’re not talking about 5% of votes cast; we’re talking about five specific individuals in a state of 3 million people.
 
Wait, it gets worse. Consider the details of the five cases Schultz and his investigatory team uncovered.
Of the five guilty pleas, three of them involved felons who had completed their prison terms but whose voting rights had not yet been restored when they went to vote.
 
In another case, a woman cast an absentee ballot for her daughter, who had recently moved to Minnesota and told her mother that she had missed the registration deadline there. After learning her daughter ultimately did vote in Minnesota, the mother self-reported the double-voting incident to the local county auditor’s office, resulting in a $147.75 fine, according to The Des Moines Register.
 
In the fifth guilty plea, a man was incidentally charged with voter fraud after a drunk driving arrest revealed that he had stolen his dead brother’s identity to obtain a driver’s license.
“Secretary Schultz’s actions not only waste a tremendous amount of money that should be used to increase access to voting in Iowa,” Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, told the Des Moines Register. “Ultimately, they make it demonstrably harder for eligible people to vote.”
 
The sensible response to revelations such as these would be an acknowledgement that crusading against a problem that doesn’t exist is foolish and unnecessary. Schultz, however, said he intends to keep using taxpayer money to look for fraud for another six months before wrapping up his pointless initiative. 
 

Iowa, Voter Fraud and War On Voting

Looking for voter fraud, coming up empty

Updated