Secretary of State reports voting irregularities from November election


COLUMBUS — Twenty people face possible prosecution for casting ballots in both Ohio and another state in last November’s presidential election, and 115 more are accused of casting more than one ballot inside the state.

In the majority of those cases, the fraudulent second votes were caught and never counted, but in some cases they did make it through the state’s defenses, Secretary of State Jon Husted said today.

“Voter fraud does exist, but it’s not an epidemic,” Ohio’s top elections official said. “No amount of fraud is acceptable, and if you cheat, you will be caught, and you will be held accountable.”

Ohio and 21 other states — including neighbors Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia — voluntarily compared their voter registration databases to flag cases in which voters were registered in multiple states. Ohio then traced those cases to find the 20 in which that voter cast ballots in both states.

Eight were cast by people also voting in Florida; two each in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Virginia; and one each in Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina.

These 20 interstate voters have been referred to Attorney General Mike DeWine for potential charges. In northwest Ohio, one voter each in Wood and Allen counties are among them.

Mr. Husted declined to identify the voters in deference to Mr. DeWine, but he said he suspects the numbers would have been higher if all 50 states had cooperated. He credited Ohio’s role as a pivotal battleground state in presidential elections as one reason why non-Ohioans would want to cast votes here.

In all, county boards of elections reported a total of 625 “voting irregularities.” Of those, 115 cases were deemed worthy of referral to local county prosecutors.

Most often, Mr. Husted said, these involved cases where the voter tried to vote again on Election Day after having already cast an absentee ballot. In these cases, these voters were flagged by poll workers, but still went on to cast last-resort provisional ballots that were never counted.

Some of the cases have already resulted in plea deals.

In northwest Ohio, those 115 include 10 in Erie County, three in Allen, and two in Ottawa. The Lucas County Board of Elections reported no alleged irregularities to Mr. Husted’s office while other large counties like Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Lorain reported more than 100 each.

After the “pre-election hyperbole” over allegations of fraud, Mr. Husted opted to go back and examine which allegations had merit. He credited the multi-state database and technological updates to Ohio’s own voter registration database for making it easier to track irregularities.

“We now have some facts to better inform the debate regarding voter fraud, election administration, and policies that surround our elections in Ohio…,” the Republican secretary of state said. “To the vast majority of voters who did it the right way in Ohio, your vote will not be diluted by the people who cheated, and we are working smarter every day to uphold the integrity of our election system and your vote.”

Mr. Husted said he does not know whether students are among any of the 20 multi-state voters referred to the attorney general. The proposed state budget adopted by the House last month included a controversial provision that would require public universities to charge out-of-state students cheaper in-state tuition if they provide documentation that students use to establish Ohio residency for voting purposes.

The Senate is expected to strip that provision from the budget before voting next month.