Staver: Marriage Equality Will Turn People Gay! »« A Pair of Interesting Court Rulings on Marriage

Iowa SOS Misused Federal Funds for Voter Fraud Investigation

Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz is in hot water even with a fellow Republican, the state auditor, who sent him a letter telling him that he must repay the $140,000 in federal funds he used in the investigation that found a whopping 16 cases of voter fraud in that state (out of more than 1.2 million votes cast).

In the aftermath of the contested 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the bipartisanHelp America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to provide federal money to make it easier for Americans to exercise their right to vote and for local governments to ensure smooth elections. But according to the office of Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman (R), a $140,000 voter fraud investigation launched by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) may be improperly using those federal funds on his probe to ferret out largely non-existent voter fraud.

In a letter to Schultz, Chief Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins (a Republican and the top deputy to Mosiman) advised that the Secretary of State should create a plan to repay the federal government for the costs of his criminal investigation into voter fraud. While not taking a position on whether his use of HAVA funds for this purpose was illegal, Jenkins lists the many things the funds can be legally used for under the law — criminal investigations is not among them.

Schultz made it quite clear why he’s pursuing voter fraud case in order to justify new voter suppression legislation:

SCHULTZ: There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat!

Except his investigation did not identify anything remotely like cheating to steal an election. Of those 16 cases, five were dismissed. Another five ended in guilty pleas, three of which involved ex-felons who registered to vote thinking that their voting rights were automatically restored when their sentence was served (as they should be — and as they were until 2011, when Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order requiring them to submit an application to have their rights restored, including a credit report). There was not a single one of those 16 cases that involved voter impersonation, the only thing that voter ID laws would help prevent.

Comments

  1. billgascoyne says

    1) Sounds like a good use of those funds to me.
    2) Is he in hot water for investigating, or for the fact that the investigation came to the “wrong” conclusion?

  2. John Pieret says

    if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat!

    I wonder if he was ever asked who “they” are. For that matter, who is that “we”?

    Is he so delusional that he thinks because elections don’t turn out the way he thinks they should, that the other side must have cheated? Or is just so dishonest that he is willing to disenfranchise tens of thousands of people who will “cheat” by legally voting in ways he doesn’t like?

  3. says

    There was not a single one of those 16 cases that involved voter impersonation, the only thing that voter ID laws would help prevent.

    1. People who can’t vote, by definition, can’t be voters.
    2. By voting (or registering to vote), people who can’t vote impersonated people who can vote.
    3. Ergo, Voter Impersonation.

    Take that, fabric of reality!

  4. John Hinkle says

    …Congress passed the bipartisanHelp America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)…

    And by “Help America Vote Act”, Schultz took that to mean the “Prevent Democrats from Voting Act,” with free money from the federal government.

  5. Jordan Genso says

    But voter fraud is real! The Michigan SoS has asked the Attorney General to investigate 10 cases where non-citizens may have voted illegally! That’s like… (counts fingers)… two hands worth!

    http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20131226/NEWS01/312260002/Fraudulent-voting-under-scrutiny

    Trying to discuss the issue with those in support of more restrictive voting rules is nearly impossible. There’s 50 comments to that article, and not one of them have attempted to do anything other than burn the straw man that “liberals think illegal votes are o.k.”.

  6. Ben P says

    1) Sounds like a good use of those funds to me.
    2) Is he in hot water for investigating, or for the fact that the investigation came to the “wrong” conclusion?

    Whether it “sounds like a good use” is irrelevant.

    HAVA like innumerable other federal statutes, provides grants to the states, if the states agree to use the money for a specific purpose, or accomplish a specific goal. The agency I work for submits detailed reports to justify federal grants and auditors check our files every couple years to ensure we’re complying.

    The Help America Vote Act provides for grants to states for the following specific purposes.
    1. Developing a new uniform voter registration form.
    2. Improving state administration of elections for federal offices
    3. Educating voters concerning voting procedures, voting rights, and voting technology
    4. Training election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers
    5. Establishing plans for grants to local governments to improve voting technology, assist disabled voters, research on improving voting technology and education.
    6. Improving, acquiring, leasing, modifying, or replacing voting systems and technology and methods for casting and counting votes
    7, Improving the accessibility and quantity of polling places, including providing physical access for individuals with disabilities, providing nonvisual access for individuals with visual impairments, and providing assistance to Native Americans, Alaska Native citizens, and to individuals with limited proficiency in the English language.
    8. Establishing toll-free telephone hotlines that voters may use to report possible voting fraud and voting rights violations, to obtain general election information, and to access detailed automated information on their own voter registration status specific polling place locations, and other relevant information.

    It specifcally provides money under HAVA may not be used for litigation or to pay any court judgment.

    Taking the money and then using it to investigate voter fraud would likely be contrary to the statute, and the state would be obligated to give it back.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    … an executive order requiring them to submit an application to have their rights restored, including a credit report

    1) I imagine most folks fresh out of prison do not have stellar credit.
    2) What the fuck-all does that have to do with voting?

  8. Michael Heath says

    billgascoyne writes:

    Sounds like a good use of those funds to me.

    Why is that?

    billgascoyne writes:

    Is he in hot water for investigating, or for the fact that the investigation came to the “wrong” conclusion?

    The answer was clearly provided in the article that you’re responding to here. The answer is neither. Sec. of State Matt Schultz is instead making the news because it appears he misappropriated funds.

    I probably shouldn’t expect a cogent response to my question.

  9. says

    Reginald Selkirk @7:

    1) I imagine most folks fresh out of prison do not have stellar credit.

    That’s point.

    2) What the fuck-all does that have to do with voting?

    With voting? Nothing. With preventing certain people from voting? Everything.

  10. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    John Pieret

    Is he so delusional that he thinks because elections don’t turn out the way he thinks they should, that the other side must have cheated?

    Why, yes, exactly. Have you read the comment section on just about any article about Obama? At least one RWNJ will inevitably mention something along the lines of, “There’s no way that Obama won that election. There was CHEATING!!!111eleven!!!” (Of course, my quote isn’t literally correct, because I didn’t call him “Obummer” or some other nickname, nor did I make multiple grammatical and spelling errors.)

    Or is just so dishonest that he is willing to disenfranchise tens of thousands of people who will “cheat” by legally voting in ways he doesn’t like?

    That’s not being dishonest, it’s caring about the country. And everyone knows that anyone NOT voting for TPers aren’t real Americans, and therefore are, by default, voting illegally.

Leave a Reply