While Iowa Was Hellbent On Finding Voter Fraud, It Disenfranchised At Least 12 Legitimate Voters

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz defending two emergency rules he passed at the Statehouse in 2012.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has made a crusade of going after alleged instances of voter fraud. But on Friday Schultz revealed that at least 12 people were improperly denied the vote during the 2012 election because of bureaucratic mistakes.

Among those denied the right to vote were individuals improperly included on the list of felons who cannot vote, and former felons whose names had not been removed from the list even though they had their voting rights restored, according to the Associated Press.

Twelve is an infinitesimal number as compared to the total voting population in Iowa, accounting for far less than .001 percent of the state’s population. But it is about on par with the number of individuals charged with voter fraud in the state — several on the claim that they improperly voted as felons. In late 2012, when Schultz was pressed to provide instances of voter fraud, he could only come up with six arrests, not convictions, for alleged voter fraud. Since then, Schultz has redoubled his efforts with a two-year, $280,000 investigation and come up with 26 cases for voter fraud prosecution — several of which have already been dismissed — and accounting for less than .001 percent of the state population over the course of several different elections.

Last month, one subject of these prosecutions with a drug offense on her record was acquitted by a jury, in the first voter fraud trial since Schultz’s investigation began. Defendant Kelli Jo Griffin presented evidence that she made a mistake and thought her voting rights had been restored since her felony conviction, over shouts from the prosecutor that, “That’s a knowing lie!”

Schultz attributed his disenfranchisement of several voters, meanwhile, to bureaucratic mistake, but has now formed a task force to further explore the issue. He said in February testimony that the data is “filled with so many inaccuracies that it could take years to fix,” AP reports.

Iowa is just one of four states in which all ex-offenders have to apply to the governor to have their voting rights restored, and the Associated Press has reported that this policy has caused confusion among Iowa ex-offenders about how and when their vote is restored. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has recently joined with Republican members of Congress to call for an end to the racially tinged policy of felon disenfranchisement.

Iowa’s latest attempt to purge the voting rolls of suspected non-citizens was struck down by a federal judge for its potential to cause irreparable harm by deterring potential voters from even registering in the first place or purging voters who were actually citizens.