- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Errors in state records could be denying legitimate voters the right to cast ballots, a Republican county election official from northern Iowa said.

Three voters were wrongly denied the right to vote in Cerro Gordo County in northern Iowa in the 2012 presidential election, and Auditor Ken Kline said he wants an investigation to figure out how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

One person who was never convicted of a felony and two ex-felons whose voting rights had been restored were denied votes in the election after Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s office confirmed the three were on a list of ineligible voters, Kline told The Des Moines Register for a story published Thursday (https://dmreg.co/Lsxkgh ).

Schultz’s spokesman said his office relied on information provided by Iowa court officials and concerns about the accuracy of the list of ineligible felons should be addressed to the courts.

The incident raises questions about how many people in other counties are on the list and improperly being denied the right to vote, Kline said.

“To have rejected a ballot based on an error or incorrect information is troubling, to say the least,” Kline said in a letter to Schultz asking for further investigation.

State Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, chairman of the Iowa Senate’s State Government Committee, has scheduled a fact-finding hearing for next week and plans to ask Schultz to appear.

“Most Iowans use an abundance of caution when it comes to denying a citizen their rights - especially when it comes to voting, which is the building block of democracy,” Danielson told the newspaper.

Schultz, a Republican who has announced his candidacy for the U.S. House 3rd District seat, has launched numerous criminal investigations into voter fraud since taking office in 2011 as the state’s top election official. He has been criticized by Democrats and voter rights advocates who believe it’s an unnecessary tactic that intimidates voters.

Kline said he sent letters to the three voters on Tuesday notifying them that they are eligible to vote, and one man telephoned him to thank him, saying it meant a lot that his vote will count next time.

Kline explained in a letter to Schultz that precinct officials challenged eight same-day-registration voters on Nov. 6, 2012, based on possible matches with a statewide list of felons. They were given provisional ballots, but none were counted after Schultz’s office confirmed the voters were on the official list of felons.

An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent checked into the cases at Schultz’s request and later found one of the voters had been charged with a felony but was never convicted. The other two had rights restored by an executive order issued by former Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2005.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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