Iowa Secretary of State thinks Linn voter impostor makes case for voter I.D.

Case under investigation by Sheriff's Office

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Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Thursday that he hopes the episode of the Linn County voter impostor will help him make his case that Iowa needs to require photo identification for those who vote.

The Linn County case involves a female who posed as 26-year-old Kristina Bentrim, of 2209 D St. SW, on Tuesday to cast a ballot in the special election on casino gaming, which Linn County Auditor Joel Miller first reported about on Wednesday.

Bentrim came to her polling place at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday only to learn that someone had voted as her. The impostor misspelled her last name on the log that voters sign when they vote, but had the correct address, Miller said. He said two poll workers knew the real Bentrim, but weren’t handling the log books when the impostor came in.

Bentrim was permitted to cast a provisional ballot, which the Linn County absentee board on Thursday approved to count in the election. The impostor’s ballot also has been counted.

Schultz, an advocate for voter I.D., said such cases would be prevented if the Iowa Legislature would pass his proposed legislation, which would require voters to produce a government-issued photo I.D. to vote.

"I think voter I.D. is a preventive measure," the secretary of state said. " ... We just happened to find out about this one. What if the (actual) voter had never come in? We would have never known about it."

Schultz said the Iowa House may pass his proposed legislation, but prospects in the Iowa Senate did not look good, he added.

Linn County’s Miller has said he needed to see a case of a voter impostor before he considered vote "stealing" a matter of concern. But he said he didn’t think the state’s first reported case would come in Linn County.

As for why someone would steal a vote, Miller speculated that the woman who unlawfully cast the ballot could have known the person who she was posing as, wanted to vote and thought the person was out of town. Maybe, he said, it was someone who had a falling out with the person and decided to play around with her ability to vote. Or maybe someone wanted to make the point that the secretary of state is making, he said.

The matter has been referred to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office for investigation, he said.

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