The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has charged three people with voter fraud for voting in Pottawattamie County even though they are not U.S. citizens. D.C.I. assistant director, Charis Paulson, says the three people who live in Council Bluffs were arrested after there was suspicion that they had illegally voted in the 2010 general election and 2011 city election.
“This is information that we had gotten from the Secretary of State’s office regarding a possible vote that had been cast by non-U-S citizens in that county,” Paulson says. The information led to the arrest of 52-year-old Albert Harte-Maxwell, 49-year-old Linda Harte-Maxwell and 40-year-old Maria Ayon-Fernandez.
“Our agents conducted our normal due-dilligence in a criminal investigation. We made contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs to determine their immigration status and then based upon that information, we conducted our investigation and found out that they did vote while they were non-U.S. citizens,” Paulson says.
Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, has been involved in a legal battle over trying to take non-citizens off the voters rolls after he found over 3,500 people through driver’s license records that were not citizens but had voted.
A lawsuit was filed to block Schultz from using a federal immigration list to cross-check and remove non-citizen voters. Schultz said during a hearing on the issue that he had turned the names over to the D.C.I. and what they did with the names was out of his hands.
Paulson says the agency is looking into more possible voter fraud. “We still have ongoing investigations in reference to election misconduct in other counties in Iowa,” Paulson says.
The three individuals from Council Bluffs turned themselves in today and were released on their own recognizance. According to criminal complaints filed, Albert Harte-Maxwell voted in both elections, Linda Harte-Maxwell voted in the 2011 city election, and Maria Ayon-Fernandez voted in the 2010 general election.
Secretary of State Schultz released this comment in connection with the fraud charges:
“As Secretary of State one of my primary duties is to ensure that we have fair and honest elections. Every person who cheats in the voting booth deprives a hard-working, eligible citizen of their voice in our government. That is why I have been fighting for election integrity and will continue to do so. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication D.C.I. has shown so far in their investigation of election crimes in our state.”