COUNCIL BLUFFS — Three people who allegedly voted in city elections the past two years have been charged with voter fraud.
Albert Harte-Maxwell, 52, Linda Harte-Maxwell, 49, and Maria Ayon-Fernandez, 40, were charged with election misconduct, a felony.
All three turned themselves in Thursday at the Pottawattamie County Jail and were released on their own recognizance.
None is a U.S. citizen, said Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Court documents indicated Albert and Linda Harte-Maxwell are Canadian citizens. Ayon-Fernandez was born in Tijuana, Mexico.
Charis Paulson, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the arrests were made after the department obtained information from Schultz.
Paulson would not say how many instances of possible illegal voting were examined in Pottawattamie County. She said other investigations could still be under way.
Schultz's office has stated that 3,582 noncitizens may have registered to vote in Iowa, and that 1,208 voted in the 2010 election.
The list was generated from Iowa Department of Transportation records of noncitizens who had obtained driver's licenses and provided their license numbers when registering to vote.
Schultz, a former Council Bluffs city councilman, has been advocating for a voter identification law since he was elected to state office in 2010.
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said his office intends to prosecute the three.
Wilber said he must prove that they knowingly registered to vote illegally or had voted illegally.
He said the Division of Criminal Investigation had “screened out'' other cases of possible voter fraud.
In fact, he said, he saw one case Wednesday and decided not to prosecute.
The charge of election misconduct carries a possible maximum jail term of five years in prison.
Division agents allege that Albert Harte-Maxwell registered to vote in Pottawattamie County in 2010. On the registration, it asks the signer to swear or affirm in two sections that he is a U.S. citizen. Albert Harte-Maxwell signed the registration and voted in the 2011 city election.
An investigator spoke with Harte-Maxwell earlier this month and, according to court documents, “it was his understanding that the only election that they (he and his wife) were not able to vote in is the presidential election, because you have to be an American citizen.”
Linda Harte-Maxwell allegedly registered to vote in November and voted in a local election. She also told investigators she thought the only election she was not allowed to vote in was the presidential election.
The two are lawful permanent residents but not naturalized citizens, according to court records. A telephone message left with the Harte-Maxwells was not returned.
Ayon-Fernandez also is a lawful permanent resident, who is alleged to have illegally cast an absentee ballot in the 2010 general election. In August, Ayon-Fernandez told division agents she originally registered to vote in California and had the registration switched to Iowa after she moved.
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