- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

Quad-City Times. Feb. 8, 2014.

Iowa vote fraud probe fizzles

Iowa legislators worked over Secretary of State Matt Schultz pretty well at a recent hearing on Schultz’s personal push to clean up voting rolls.

Schultz staked his political career on his high-profile effort to curb voter fraud. Almost immediately after being elected in 2010, he alerted county election officials he was targeting immigrants he believed were voting improperly.

County auditors waited and waited for Schultz to follow through. It took more than a year for him to acquire a federal citizenship database to check the legality of perhaps 1,000 Iowa voters Schultz suspected of voting illegally. The $240,000 probe led to 26 arrests of folks who mostly seemed confused, not conspirators.

At the same time, Schultz’s crackdown led to improper challenges of three Iowa voters whose names were incorrectly on a list of ineligible felons. Turns out, all had their voting rights restored years ago. Schultz’s round-up has nine former Iowa felons facing new felony charges for voting in recent elections.

We were early and ardent supporters of Gov. Tom Vilsack’s initiative to more easily restore felons’ voting rights. Voting is not a reward bestowed for good behavior. We regard voting as an important way to engage all Iowans, including ex-felons, in civic leadership. Gov. Terry Branstad believed otherwise. He rescinded Vilsack’s order and reinstated the cumbersome process that pretty much eliminates any voting by ex-felons. And Schultz eagerly added ex-felons to his voting purge.

Schultz chose to spend his secretary of state career collaring a relative handful of voters whose mistakes might have been cleared up with a public information campaign. A better choice, we believe, would have been to build support for voter ID cards, a more effective way to reduce voting fraud. If implemented earnestly, we believe a voter ID effort could actually increase participation. We’re mindful of concerns about access to cards. But a state that can put lottery tickets, alcohol, driver’s licenses and tax forms in the hands of almost every adult resident certainly is capable of competently equipping each voter with a laminated ID.

Now Schultz is running for Iowa’s Third Congressional District seat. He’ll be touting his record on this voter crackdown. We believe Iowa and Schultz’s candidacy would be better served if he could tout a massive increase in Iowa voting participation, not the six-figure investigation that nabbed a handful of immigrants and ex-felons.


The Des Moines Register. Feb. 7, 2014.

It’s time to tighten access to vaccination exemptions

Like Iowa, Colorado is one of 48 states that allow parents to cite personal or religious reasons to exempt their children from vaccinations required to attend school. Amid a national outbreak of preventable diseases like whooping cough, Colorado officials are working to make it more difficult for parents to do this. One proposal being considered would require them to receive counseling or education related to vaccinations before they can opt out for nonmedical reasons.

Iowa should consider a similar measure. If government doesn’t bring some common sense and truth to the thoroughly debunked idea linking vaccines to autism, who is going to do it? Children can’t pick their parents, and they are left vulnerable to illnesses that can cause serious health problems. Just as troubling, unvaccinated children put other children at risk for communicable diseases.

And there are no shortage of these children in Iowa. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 2,184 Iowa children were granted an exemption from vaccinations for medical reasons in the 2012-13 school year. More than twice that number, 4,958, were granted an exemption for religious reasons. In 2012, there were 1,700 cases of pertussis in the state, an illness that is preventable with a routine vaccine.

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