Possible Voter Fraud in Iowa Spurs Debate

Should you have to show a Photo I.D. when you vote? It’s a simple question, but some say the answer is complicated.

Earlier this year, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz told the state’s auditors that as many as 3,500 people in Iowa could be guilty of voter fraud in the 2010 elections. On Thursday, September 20th, three people were charged with voter fraud, which is a Class D Felony, in Iowa’s Pottawattamie County. Schultz says one way to avoid this type of behavior in the future is to change the rules and require U.S. citizens in Iowa to show their I.D. before they cast their vote.

“You have to show an ID to get on an airplane, before you open a checking account, and even to buy a beer… so why not when you vote?” said Schultz on Thursday, September 20th, during a visit to the Scott County Republican Headquarters in Davenport.

But Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz says it’s not that simple. She says Schultz’ idea doesn’t include the 40-50% of voters who vote absentee or the 10% of voters who don’t have the correct I.D.

“That is usually females, minorities, older people, and students and so it is a percentage of the population that doesn’t have what they need to vote and so you would be excluding them from getting to the polls,” says Moritz.

Moritz says there’s already “checks and balances” in place. For example, if you’re voting for the first time or you haven’t voted in four years, you have to show your I.D. But Schultz says that rule needs to be extended to include everyone… not to make it harder to vote, but to make sure that vote counts.

“A few votes can matter in an election and so it’s my job to make sure that only eligible people are voting,” says Schultz.

“I’m very supportive of the Secretary of State saying that we don’t want any individuals voting that shouldn’t be,” says Moritz. “While people say one vote doesn’t matter, every vote matters. It’s your vote.”

Schultz says nothing will change for the upcoming election on November 6th, 2012, but it’s on the agenda for the Iowa Legislature to discuss next year.

Meanwhile, Moritz says she’s waiting for Schultz to give her the name of the 180 voters – out of the estimated 3,500 — who may be guilty of voter fraud in Scott County. She wants to start a local investigation, but Schultz says he is not able to give her the list until he is granted access to the federal database. You can read more about that story here.

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