Intent versus outcome: Ineligible voters versus unknowing voters

On March 6, 2012, the unincorporated areas of Linn County approved a local option sales & service tax by 43 votes.  Linn County will probably reap millions of dollars in additional tax revenue based upon this vote.

On December 3, 2008, a recount of the Iowa House of Representatives District 37 election contest resulted in Renee Schulte beating Art Staed by 13 votes.

After the November 4, 2008, general election, 12 felons were convicted of voting when they were ineligible to vote.  After the November 2, 2010, general election, my office determined that 4 voters had voted twice in the same election, i.e., once by absentee ballot and once at the polls.  Precinct election officials – ultimately reporting to me – made a mistake and allowed these 4 voters to vote at the polls.  Shame on us.

But according to the Linn County Attorney, the 4 voters who voted twice did so without any criminal intent; whereas, the same County Attorney’s Office prosecuted the 12 felons who voted in 2008.

What if these 12 felons and 4 double voters had voted in House District 37 in 2008?  Think of it as 12 ineligible voters and 4 unknowing voters – 12 supposedly with intent and 4 without intent – giving Staed the Democrat the win versus Schulte the Republican the win.  What if Staed’s winning allowed the Democrats to gain a 51-49 majority in the House?  How would that have affected the State of Iowa over the last 4 years?

I’m guessing there are a great number of people who have been charged with crimes when they had no intent of any wrong doing, but something bad occurred – a bad outcome.

One of these days, someone is going to win an election they should not have won because votes got counted that should not have been counted.  That will be a travesty for democracy.  But even worse will be the fact that we figured out what happened and no one did anything about it … because “they” didn’t have “intent”.

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