An Iowa Trump Supporter Pleads Guilty To A Voter Fraud Charge

by Chris Tognotti
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Amid the controversy of the Trump administration's voter fraud commission, one Trump voter in Iowa pleaded guilty to election misconduct in June after trying to vote for him twice in the 2016 election, the Associated Press reported.

The woman in question is Terri Lynn Rote, a 57-year-old resident of Des Moines, Iowa. Rote reportedly bought into Trump's election season pronouncements about widespread election rigging, in spite of a striking lack of evidence of any amount of meaningful or consequential in-person voter fraud.

The president has walked the talk on his claims of the election being rigged, setting up a voter fraud commission — headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — that has requested voter roll data from every state and Washington, D.C. The request was rebuffed by dozens of states, and critics have reiterated the rarity of actual cases of such fraud. Based on the best studies available, it seems to almost never happen, with just four confirmed cases in 2016 out of more than 120 million votes.

And so, according to CBS News, Rote herself became an example of the very sort of rare, unusual fraud she was so concerned about. She reportedly voted twice for Trump because she was convinced her first vote would be changed and counted for Hillary Clinton instead. According to court documents, Rote's attorney Jane White argued that she had "cognitive limitations," and that she likely could not assist in her own defense, the AP reported. A judge in May found otherwise, that Rote was mentally competent to stand trial

With the guilty plea, Rote figures to face a far lighter penalty than some people who commit voter fraud encounter. Rosa Maria Ortega, an undocumented immigrant living in Texas, was arrested and charged In February for illegally voting in 2012 and 2014, despite her lawyer's insistence that she didn't realize, as a green card holder, that she couldn't. Ortega was ultimately sentenced to eight years in prison.

Rote, on the other hand, may be facing nothing more than a probationary period, in addition to some community service. According to The Independent, that's the sentence which court documents suggest attorneys will be seeking, although obviously, nothing's settled just yet. The sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15.

It bears repeating that despite Rote's case, and the small handful of other reportedly cases of voter fraud last year, it's statistically rare in the extreme, and it's sometimes falsely conflated with the existence of defunct or incorrect voter registration rolls, a very different issue which doesn't demonstrate fake votes have actually been cast.

Trump has long insisted that his loss to Clinton in the popular vote is explained-away thanks to three to five million illegal votes having been cast, a claim that is utterly unsupported by any evidence, and which is a common right-wing and pro-Trump conspiracy theory. The repeated insistence early in his presidency ultimately led to the creation of the Trump administration's national voter fraud commission, which voting rights advocates fear will actually turn into a large-scale voter suppression effort.