Iowa’s highly touted crackdown on improper voting finally has resulted in some arrests that appear to justify Secretary of State Matt Schultz’ concerns. We’ll leave it to voters to decide if Schultz’ concerns merit the breadth of his two-year, $280,000 investigation.
Schultz drew headlines – and some catcalls – when he cross referenced federal immigration records with Iowa voting records. Then he paid an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent to follow leads. Schultz, speaking Oct. 23 at a Scott County Republican Party fundraiser in Davenport, reported 20 active cases and five convictions. He said he expects “a lot” more.
The investigation yielded two arrests in Muscatine County. Both are documented immigrants charged for misrepresenting their citizenship status in an attempt to vote. Syliva Rada, 49, is alleged to have done it on an absentee ballot she filled out in 2012. Prosecutors say Mayra Lopez-Morales, 21, didn’t divulge her immigrant status on a voter registration form in 2012. Both face Class D felonies.
Schultz has drawn far more attention than results with his investigation of immigrant voter fraud. On Sept. 26, Tehvedin Murgic of Dallas County pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges of voter misconduct in the 2010 election. He was fined $1,325.
Schultz’ investigators busted Nickie Dean Perkins for failing to disclose his felony convictions when he registered to vote in 2012. Another investigation centers on Linn County voter alleged to have submitted an absentee ballot in another’s name. That investigation is pending.
After reporting on several elections decided by one vote, we can commend Schultz for his zero tolerance of voter misconduct. But rather than an organized scheme, he so far has uncovered a handful of individual cases that don’t seem to be part of any conspiracy. Indeed, the few founded cases after a two-year investigation seem to support the integrity of Iowa elections.
We share support for voter ID we find no more onerous than identification required to cash a Social Security check or buy an airline ticket. But so far, Schultz’ investigation suggests that two years spent on a public information and registration campaign might be a more effective path than a two-year criminal investigation.