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Government and Politics

Ohio Secretary of State refers 17 people for voting prosecution
Says BMV data uncovered voters; Democrats say the tiny percentage shows concern about voter fraud is overblown

Jo Ingles
Secretary of State Jon Husted says drivers' license documentation led to the discovery of 17 non-citizens voting.
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Ohio’s chief elections officer is asking prosecutors around the state to investigate 17 people who voted in Ohio during the 2012 general election. As Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, Secretary of State Jon Husted says those voters were not legal U.S. citizens.

LISTEN: Non-citizen voters and citizens not voting

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Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says his office has found problems with the state’s voter rolls.

“There were 17 non-citizens who voted in the 2012 general elections and 274 non-citizens that are registered to vote but did not cast a ballot.”

Husted says his office discovered the problems in the process of cleaning up voter rolls in Ohio.

“In order to obtain a driver’s license, someone who is not a citizen but is residing in Ohio legally must provide documentation to the BMV on a regular basis.

Drivers' licenses tell a lot
“Records show that the 17 individuals in question provided non-citizen documentation before the 2012 General Election and have since provided the same non-citizen information. This is important because based on the information that they themselves provided to BMV, we have a greater degree of certainty that they were not citizens at the time that they cast ballots in Ohio.”

Husted says the cases of the 17 non-citizens who voted have been referred to various county prosecutors. And he says letters have been sent to the 274 other non-citizens who are registered but didn’t cast ballots to inform them they are not qualified to vote. But Husted is careful to say the people in question are not illegal immigrants.

“The people in question are not in Ohio illegally. They are documented immigrants who are non-citizens. However, as such, they are not eligible to vote.”

A tiny fraction, and protecting those who can vote
Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent says she has no problem with the Secretary of State using the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database to crosscheck information to verify voter registrations. But she says the state needs to be careful as to how it uses BMV files when it comes to actual voting.

“There are huge data transmission problems where the secretary of state didn’t transmit data to the board in enough time for them to process it.

“There were glitches with voters not being able to update their registrations and use the online system. That has been fixed but I think there are some user friendly issues that need to be worked out. And there has been a series of other problems with the interface of the BMV.”

Clyde says it’s important to remember there are far more people who are qualified to vote who are unable to cast ballots than those who do so illegally.

“Once again, Secretary Husted has revealed how rare of a problem voter fraud is in Ohio. Compared to the real problems in our election, the secretary is focused on .0003 percent of the 5.63 million votes cast in the November 2012 election. In that same election, we had more than 47,000 voters had their votes thrown out and over 3 million Ohioans didn’t participate in the election at all.”

Clyde says the focus needs to be on what can be done to make voting easier for Ohioans and what can be done to make sure more voters actually go to the polls to be part of the democratic process.


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