Reviews of election data by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted found 821 non-citizens, including five in Clark County, have registered to vote in the state over the past five years — 126 of whom cast ballots.
“Voter fraud exists. It’s rare. We hold people accountable when it happens. And we’re trying to build a better system so we can get out in front of this and it doesn’t happen in the future,” Husted told this newspaper on Monday.
The study showed five non-citizens registered to vote in Clark County, but none of those individuals casts votes. There are more than 89,000 people registered to vote here, Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said.
Baker can’t investigate until he has a list of names, he said. If any non-citizens voted in Clark County, Baker would present the issue to the Board of Elections for further discussion, he said. False voter registration is a fifth-degree felony and a conviction can affect their ability to remain in the United States and become citizens.
“We take that seriously as well as whoever commits election falsification,” he said.
Upon registering to vote, a person must give their birth date, as well as one of two different identification, including the last four digits of your social security number or a driver’s license number, Baker said.
“If it did happen in Clark County, they would have to have some type of identification to get those documents,” he said.
It’s unclear what the future holds when it comes to registering to vote, especially in light of recent discussions about voter fraud at the federal level, Baker said. Earlier this year, Husted made the process easier with online voter registration, he said.
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The 821 improper registrations statewide is out of more than 7.8 million registered voters in Ohio. The 126 apparently illegally cast ballots is out of 18.7 million votes cast in statewide primary and general elections held since 2013. In no instances did the non-citizens cast ballots in elections decided by one vote, Husted found.
League of Women Voters of Ohio Executive Director Carrie Davis said the allegations should be put into the proper context.
“In November 2016, Ohio had 7,861,025 registered voters and, of those, 5,607,641 cast ballots in the November election. Husted’s 385 registered amounts to 0.004898 percent of total registered voters, and his alleged 82 votes cast amount to 0.001462 percent of the 5,607,641 total votes cast in November 2016,” Davis said in a written statement.
She also noted that the cases have yet to be investigated by law enforcement or heard in court.
The review is standard and not in response to President Donald Trump’s statements that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election, Husted said.
Since 2013, Husted’s office has reviewed election data and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records to check against fraud: 291 non-citizens were found on the rolls in 2013 and 145 in 2015 and 385 in 2017.
The 82 found this year to have cast improper ballots will be referred to prosecutors for possible criminal charges. Those who are registered but haven’t voted will receive letters informing them non-citizens cannot vote and asking them to cancel their registration. If they remain on the rolls after receiving two letters, they will be referred to law enforcement.
Husted argues that his office should have wider access to federal data, including records of non-citizens who have valid Social Security numbers.
“This would enable me and my counterparts in other states to prevent illegal registrations, and more importantly, reassure the public that steps have been take to ensure only eligible voters are participating in federal, state and local elections,” Husted said in testimony before Congress in 2015.
Husted, a Republican, testified before Congress in 2015 against President Barack Obama’s executive action to provide access to Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses to non-citizens. He warned that these are the same documents used to register to vote.
Some non-citizens register and vote by mistake while others do it to impact the election, Husted said.
“I would say in the majority of the cases this is somebody who registers to vote who either didn’t know it was against the law or who is just in this country and trying to participate in democracy. But the bottom line is people who do this are guilty of a felony,” he said.
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By the numbers
821: Non-citizens who registered to vote in Ohio in the past five years.
126: Non-citizens who cast ballots during that time.
5: Non-citizens who registered to vote in Clark County in the past five years.
0: Non-citizens who cast ballots in Clark County during that time.
SOURCE: Ohio Secretary of State’s office
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