Secretary of State Matt Schultz talks voter rights in Washington

Dec 19, 2012

Iowa’s Secretary of State Matt Schultz was in Washington today to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports the committee was tackling the contentious issue of voters rights.

After the election, voter fraud continues to be a partisan issue. Democrats see voter ID laws as suppression where Republicans-- like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley-- see voter fraud as a real problem.  Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz was there to back Grassley up, telling the committee that Iowa took a more balanced approach to preventing voter fraud than states like Florida.  Schultz says they didn't purge the voter rolls or use scare tactics, "we did not ask to have these people removed, we did not send any notices, because we recognized that there was a potential for these individuals that they may have when they got their drivers licenses been non-citizens, and then later become citizens and voted."

Still Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois asked Schultz if he was creating a solution in search of a problem, "do you have evidence of non-citizens voting in Iowa?" 

Schultz says yes, it's not an imaginary problem," since August 2012, we’ve six people have been arrested." 

But Durbin fired back, suggesting that number was statistically insignificant, "Six? How many have voted?" 

Durbin say the amount of fraud doesn’t justify the possibility of preventing mostly minorities and poor voters from going to the polls. But Schultz says an illegitimate vote cancels out a legitimate one, which also disenfranchises voters. With partisan gridlock and a soon to adjourn congress, any new legislation to prevent long lines and other problems at the polls will have to wait till next year.