On Thursday, Secretary of State Jon Husted released the first-ever statewide report on voter fraud, based on a review of cases by Ohio's 88 county boards of elections, as well as the Secretary of State's Office following the 2012 presidential election.
To date, 135 cases have been referred to law enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution. This includes 20 individuals Husted will refer to the Attorney General who are registered to vote in Ohio and another state, plus who appear to have cast ballots in each this past November. These cases were identified as a result of Ohio's voluntary involvement in the Interstate Crosscheck Program – a consortium of 22 states seeking to improve overall elections integrity.
"This report demonstrates that voter fraud does exist; but it is not an epidemic," said Husted. "More importantly, our effort to look into irregularities and root out voter fraud sends a strong message that no amount of fraud is acceptable. If you cheat, you will be caught and held accountable."
In January 2013, Secretary Husted issued Voter Fraud Directive, instructing all county boards of elections to have a process in place to review substantiated allegations of voter fraud or voter suppression. Boards were directed to refer potential legal violations to law enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution. The counties are in various stages of their processes, however, at this time, boards of elections have identified and reported 625 cases of voting irregularities statewide. Based on reports from the counties, no voters were denied ballots and zero referrals have been made as a result of voters claiming suppression.
County boards of elections have referred voters to local law enforcement for double voting, voting for other people (including for those who had passed away before Election Day), and for voting from an address from which they were not eligible. In the majority of cases in which a voter was found to have cast multiple ballots in Ohio, only one of those ballots was ultimately counted.
"While it is apparent that incidents of voter fraud have occurred and we must remain vigilant, it is also clear that the safeguards we have in place worked in the majority of these cases," Husted said.
It was in cross-state registrations where some slipped through the cracks. Based on data Ohio received and vetted from other states, a small number of 2012 presidential election voters did manage to cast ballots in both Ohio and another state.
Through the Interstate Crosscheck Program, Ohio was able to compare its Statewide Voter Registration Database against the voter databases from other participating states. From there, Husted's office reviewed any matches using a thorough process that involved requesting additional information from elections officials in other states, and from Ohio's county boards of elections. The result: 20 cases are on their way to the Ohio Attorney General's office for further investigation.
Efforts to uncover instances of voter fraud would have been more difficult if not for the work done by Husted and county boards of elections to improve the accuracy of Ohio's voter polls and get more complete information for Ohio voters.
Additionally on Thursday, Husted issued USPS Post Office Box Directive, which requires Ohio's 88 county boards of elections to look into voter registrations using a U.S. Postal Service or a commercial mailbox storefront address, such as Mail Boxes Etc. or the UPS store, where the voter may rent a post office box. Under Ohio election law, the place where an individual receives mail, but does not live, cannot be considered that individual's residence for voting purposes.
Under the Directive, boards of elections will be required to compile a list of all USPS and commercial mailbox storefronts located in the county. Boards will then match those addresses against county registration records to determine if any voter is registered from one of those locations. In addition, each board will be required to program its county voter registration system to flag future usage of any such address, or to regularly examine its voter file to ensure addresses are residential.
This Directive will not impact voters with post office boxes on file for the purposes of receiving mail, due to USPS operations and ensure receipt of notification from boards of elections. In these instances, post office boxes are provided by the voter in addition to their residential address.
Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.
7831 N. Business Park Drive