Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz defended his push for a voter identification law Wednesday, telling a group of Republicans that nobody has ever looked for voter fraud in the state and to expect "a lot" of cases to be filed over the next several months.
Schultz, who will seek a second term next year, was the featured speaker at a fundraiser for the Scott County Republican Party at Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano.
Elected in 2010, Schultz has made safeguarding the ballot box from fraud a top priority. He has devoted $280,000 over two years to an investigation of potential voter fraud, which is being conducted by an agent from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Schultz told the group that, so far, 20 cases of voter fraud have been filed, with five guilty pleas.
Of the five cases, which were brought over the past two years, two were felons who illegally voted, another was a person who voted in two states in last year's election, and two others improperly registered but did not vote, according to information provided Wednesday by Schultz's office. The cases were handled by local county attorneys.
Schultz said a majority of Iowans support requiring a picture ID at the polls and that "elitists" in the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate are stopping its passage.
Critics say Iowa's elections have a history of being clean and Schultz's efforts are nothing but an expensive effort aimed at depressing turnout. He is locked in a court fight with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.
Democrat Brad Anderson, who is expected to be the Democratic Party's nominee to run against Schultz, said Wednesday he would find less intrusive ways to guard against fraud, such as expanding the use of electronic poll books. He added that, given the expense and time involved in the investigation, five guilty pleas shows Schultz's efforts have been a "failure."
He downplayed the idea there would be more cases.
"He’s been saying that for years. In the meantime, 680,000 registered Iowans didn’t vote last year, and he hasn’t offered a single solution” to that, he said.
Anderson was the state director for President Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Iowa last year.
Schultz said there are a number of tools to prevent voter fraud and the identification requirement is the only way to prevent "in person" fraud.
He also rebutted criticisms that he is trying to keep people from voting or that his motives are aimed at minorities. Schultz said he speaks Spanish fluently and is married to a Latina. He said he's spent time in Latin America, too, where the same kind of laws he's advocating here are already in place.
"Every Latin American country requires an ID to vote. How is that racist?" he asked. "Do you think they'd let us come and vote."