The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 11, 2014

Iowa finds 12 votes were wrongly rejected in 2012

(Continued)

IOWA CITY —

Schultz, whose office is responsible for maintaining the list of 46,000 ineligible felons, told lawmakers in February that the data is filled with so many inaccuracies that it could take years to fix. Court officials send his office names to add after convictions, while the governor's office sends names of those restored to be removed.

Schultz said Friday that due to data entry mistakes, two felons weren't taken off the list after their rights were restored because the names associated with convictions didn't match their restoration names. He said six others had their rights restored by Vilsack's order but were never removed. One felon had his rights restored in 2010, but it wasn't entered into the database.

It wasn't clear why two non-felons were on the list. The third was charged with a felony in 2006 but never convicted.

All 12 were flagged as ineligible felons when they registered at polling places, but were allowed to cast provisional ballots that could be counted afterward if they proved eligibility. The ballots were rejected by precinct boards.

Schultz instructed county auditors Friday to work with local police to verify voters' felon status before rejecting provisional ballots in the future. He also formed a task force to "come up with a long-term solution to fix inaccuracies" in the list.

One voting rights group said other former offenders were probably disenfranchised because Iowa's process for identifying felons was "fundamentally broken."

"While the state has devoted extensive resources to finding instances of ineligible felons voting, it's neglected to correct its own database to ensure the removal of individuals who had their right to vote restored as far back as 2005," said Jon Sherman, attorney for the Fair Election Legal Network in Washington D.C. "Perhaps the Secretary should spend more time protecting this precious right."

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