"Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Just Proved That Voter ID Laws Are Unnecessary"
CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), one of the nation’s most enthusiastic voter suppressors, released a report on Thursday outlining the results a two-year investigation into possible voter fraud, conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at his request. But while Schultz has frequently scared Iowa voters with allegations of thousands of possible non-citizens voting in the state and living people showing up at the polls to cast ballots in the name of dead voters, the investigation revealed found an infinitesimal number of illegal votes cast and zero cases of impersonation at the polls.
Since his election in 2010, Schultz has been a staunch advocate for a strict voter ID law in Iowa, though his efforts to require one have stalled in the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate. Last year he told supporters that in order to get conservative policies on “abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about,” they must “start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well.” Without voter ID, he told them, “you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat! They’ll cheat.”
In 2012, Schultz attempted to launch an illegal voter purge to remove up to 3,582 foreign nationals he suspected of being illegally registered to vote in the state. He proposed a system in which those suspected non-citizens would have just two weeks to prove their citizenship or they would lose their voting rights. When that was blocked by the courts, he committed hundreds of thousands of public dollars for the DCI investigation.
Nearly two years and $250,000 later, Schultz said that 238 total cases of suspected election misconduct were investigated. Investigators “found evidence of election misconduct in 117 cases that cancelled out the votes of legitimate Iowa voters,” he notes, and 17 more cases are still being investigated. One of those cases resulted in a not-guilty verdict and four cases were dismissed. Combined, that means at most 134 instances of fraudulent voting were found in Iowa over several elections, compared with 1,589,951 votes cast in the 2012 general elections alone. That means, at most, the investigation found a 0.008427933% rate of voter fraud.
But notably, that total includes more than just non-citizen voting. Sixty eight of the 238 investigated cases involved convicted felons who allegedly were registered to vote and/or voted despite not having had their voting rights restored. And of the 147 registered voters suspected of being non-citizens even after thorough review of the 3,582 people initially flagged, 70 of those turned out to also be citizens (more than 47 percent).
The report also notes that 23 cases examined “potential election misconduct” by people other than non-citizens and felons without restored voting rights. According to the AP, these cases involved people who had cast votes in more than one state — possibly by absentee in one and in person in the other. There was not a single identified case of impersonation fraud at the polls — people showing up and pretending to be another voter — meaning that Schultz’s own investigation found no cases at all that would have been prevented with his proposed voter identification law.
A spokesman for Schultz did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment, but Schultz told the AP the investigation was worth the money: “There are people who voted who weren’t supposed to, and this is a situation where we tried to do something about it. I think it was the right thing to do and I stand by that.”