Iowa City Press-Citizen. Jan. 30, 2014.
Schultz's hunt for fraud disenfranchises eligible voters
Last week, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced the state was filing charges in nine additional voter fraud cases — all concerning felons who voted in the 2012 general election without having had their voting rights restored.
We've already opined repeatedly against Schultz's instance on playing Captain Ahab to what he views as the White Whale of statewide voter fraud. And so far — despite Schultz's having pledged to spend more than a quarter-million dollars on such investigations — that White Whale has seemed more like a minnow.
And we've likewise opined repeatedly against Gov. Terry Branstad's issuing an executive order to stop Iowa from automatically restoring the voting rights of felons once they have paid their debt to society. Branstad's order nullified the one issued by his predecessor, Tom Vilsack, and created an incredibly complicated situation for determining which ex-felons have the right to vote and which ex-felons, if they cast a vote, risk committing yet another felony.
So Schultz's announcement last week makes it seem like he's fishing for his White Whale in a stocked pond. Rather than find evidence of widespread voter impersonation — the imagined rationale behind Schultz's advocacy for new voter ID laws — the vast majority of the charges filed have been against felons who vote even though they are on the wrong side of that blurry, jagged line.
But it seems Schultz can't figure out for himself who is on the right and wrong side of that divide. Before the 2012 election, Schultz's office issued a list of about 46,000 names of felons who supposedly were ineligible to vote. At least three names — probably more — were on the list incorrectly.
Last week, Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline sent a letter to Schultz saying the list had caused his office to have eight Iowans cast provisional ballots in the 2012 presidential election. After Schultz's office confirmed the eight names were on the list, Kline rejected the ballots. Nearly a month later, however, the Department of Criminal Investigation agent working with Schultz notified Klein that three of the voters should not have been on list in the first place.
As an auditor, Kline could not have determined for himself whether those Iowans were eligible voters. (Such a check requires someone with the same level of access and expertise as a DCI agent.) So Kline has urged Schultz to take action to ensure the accuracy of the other names on the list.
On Wednesday, however, Schultz's spokesman issued a statement disavowing the office of responsibility: "Concerns about the accuracy of the list should be addressed to the state court administrator and the 99 clerks of court, not the Secretary of State's Office."
In other words, if a felon mistakenly assumes he is on the right side of that confusingly-drawn line, then Schultz will come after him with the full force of law. But if Schultz keeps eligible voters from voting because he mistakenly believes they are on the wrong side of that line, then he doesn't even have to issue an apology.
We're glad to see the Iowa Senate's State Government Committee has scheduled a fact-finding hearing on the matter. And we hope these cases of disenfranchisement will persuade Iowa officials finally to end Schultz's fishing expedition.
The Des Moines Register. Jan. 31, 2014.
Here's another example of big government intrusion
If men could get pregnant, abortion wouldn't be controversial in this country. Medication to terminate a pregnancy would be available at every pharmacy. Over the counter. A government historically dominated by men would never contemplate forcing the members of its own gender to carry a pregnancy to term, swollen ankles and all.
But men can't get pregnant. And conservative males in Washington have an insatiable appetite for doing anything possible to force a woman they've never met to remain pregnant. It's baffling, actually, because these are some of the same lawmakers who denounce big government infringing on people's personal lives.
Pretty soon you start to wonder if their opposition to abortion is less about "protecting life" and more about controlling women. Either way, these men seem incapable of stopping themselves from dwelling on this issue.
On Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impose tighter restrictions on federal payments for abortion. Of course such payments are already restricted, but that little fact doesn't matter. Lawmakers jump at any chance to get their views "on the record" on abortion.
Wouldn't it be better if instead they got on the record voting for legislation that actually improved the lives of Americans? Maybe initiatives to increase the minimum wage, create jobs, fund medical research or feed the children who have already been born?