Thanks to new cross-checking of the statewide voter database with drivers’ license records, Secretary of State Jon Husted today said his office discovered 17 non-U.S. citizens cast illegal ballots in Ohio’s 2012 general election. Husted has turned over the names of those voters, including five from Franklin County, to the state attorney general’s office for possible prosecution. Under Ohio and federal law, a voter must be a U.S. citizen, and must attest to that fact when registering to vote. Another 274 Ohioans, all of whom are in the state legally but also are not U.S. citizens, are registered to vote but have not cast a ballot. Husted said his office is sending a letter to each informing them they are illegally registered along with the forms needed for them to cancel their registrations. They will not be turned over for prosecution unless they fail to cancel, Husted said.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Secretary of State Jon Husted said Wednesday that his office found nearly 300 people who are non-U.S. citizens but registered to vote in Ohio, including 17 who appear to have voted in the 2012 presidential election. Those 17 cases, including four from Cuyahoga County, have been referred to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for possible prosecution. The cases illustrate the need for online voter registration as a way to further bolster the integrity of Ohio’s voting system, Husted said in a news conference. Data incorporated in an online registration system would have caught any non-citizen attempting to register in that manner. “If the legislature had approved online registration and these individuals had attempted to register using that system, they could have been prevented from registering and they and our elections system would be better off,” he said. “I again ask the legislature to take swift action on this common sense reform.”
Seventeen non-citizens voted in the November 2012 election in Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Wednesday morning, but he acknowledged that there’s no evidence of an organized effort to register non-citizens. “It exists, it’s rare, violators will be held accountable,” Husted said of non-citizen voting during a press conference at his Columbus office. Around 5.63 million total votes were cast in the election. The announcement comes as state Republicans are preparing to pass a slew of voting restrictions next month. In addition to the 17 non-citizens who voted, another 274 non-citizens registered to vote, added Husted, a Republican. He said they all had provided paperwork to the state’s motor vehicles department, both before and after the November 2012 election, demonstrating their non-citizenship status. But he allowed that some of the 274 could have become citizens since registering.
A Democratic lawmaker and frequent critic of GOP-backed election law changes wants the state’s chief elections official to offer online voter registration. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, sent a letter to Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted outlining the reasons she believes the change can be implemented without legislative approval. ”Since online voter registration is already permitted by Ohio law, there is no reason to wait to make it available to all Ohioans,” Clyde wrote. “Ohio should be a leader on this, especially since our online registration system is already built and ready to use.”
Outside the Statehouse, Ohio’s election system is designed to run as a bipartisan machine in which the two parties watch over the process, and each other, to ensure that no one gains an unfair advantage. Inside the Statehouse is very different. “Elections are the only game in town where the players get to make their own rules,” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Elections Officials. Few issues have led to more-heated partisan rhetoric than election-law changes. Nearly every significant proposal is greeted with cries of voter suppression, disenfranchisement and racism from Democrats whose only real chance of stopping the bills are ballot referendums or lawsuits. “Unfortunately, the GOP agenda on changing election laws is not to solve the problems … and to create burdens on voters,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent. “We’re all for common-sense solutions, but that’s not what we’re seeing.” This year, bills altering early voting, provisional balloting, absentee applications and minor-party recognition have ignited fights.
A Republican-backed voting bill in Ohio could contribute to longer lines at the polls and make it easier to purge voters from the rolls. State lawmakers passed the legislation Wednesday – and there’s likely much worse to come. The bill itself has voting-rights advocates concerned enough. But it’s almost certain to be just the first step in a broad assault on access to the ballot box expected in the coming weeks from Republicans in Ohio, a pivotal state in presidential elections. The measure cleared the Ohio House of Representatives by a 60-33 vote Wednesday, with just two Democrats in support. It has already been approved by the Senate and now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it. Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich, said Thursday morning that the governor is studying the bill and will announce a decision shortly.
The state’s top election official sees a bill aimed at keeping Ohio’s voter registration database up-to-date as a missed opportunity to also let residents register to vote online, his spokesman said. The measure passed the Republican-led House on a 60-33 vote Wednesday. It now goes to the governor, who is likely to sign it. The bill would require state agencies to share data with the secretary of state to help maintain Ohio’s voter records. For instance, the state’s health director would have to file monthly reports concerning voters who have died so the deceased could be removed promptly from the voter rolls in the perennial battleground state. It also reduces the minimum number of electronic voting machines a county must have by changing the formula used to calculate it. Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, already has the authority to do what’s included in the bill, said his spokesman, Matt McClellan. “What it should do is authorize online voter registration, which would make it easier to vote, harder to cheat and save the taxpayers millions of dollars,” McClellan said in an email. “It does no harm, but it is a missed opportunity.”
Ohio: House likely to take up voter database legislation this week, hold off on other elections bills | Cleveland Plain Delaer
The Ohio House of Representatives is likely to vote Wednesday on legislation to increase state agency cooperation for Ohio’s voter registration database. A couple of other, more contentious voting bills, meanwhile, are likely to stay in a House committee until next year, according to a House GOP spokesman. The House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee is set to vote Tuesday on Senate Bill 200, which would require state agencies such as the Ohio Department of Health and Bureau of Motor Vehicles to send updated voter information to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. It would also, among other things, reduce the minimum number of electronic voting machines that a county must have.
Ohio would cross-reference voter addresses with other state databases to try to clean up discrepancies under a voting bill that’s likely to pass the General Assembly on Wednesday. The legislation is part of a collection of Republican-sponsored bills that Democrats and civil rights activists say are slowly chipping away at voting rights in Ohio, the quintessential swing state. Most of the other bills won’t get a vote until next year, and many may not get a vote at all. Under the bill up for a vote on Wednesday, the secretary of state’s office would be able to try to update the voter rolls using information in databases associated with agencies such as the license bureau, the criminal justice system or offices that manager welfare and food stamp benefits. If the review were to identify a discrepancy, the secretary of state would notify local boards of elections so they could contact a person to try to update the record.
Voting-rights advocates are calling on Gov. John Kasich to veto a handful of election-reform bills moving through the state legislature, saying the proposed law changes would make it more difficult for eligible Ohioans to cast ballots. “What we see right now is a concerted effort by Gov. Kasich and our very, very hyper-partisan state Legislature to undermine the democratic process and build a brick wall between voters and the ballot box,” said Deidra Reese, representing the Ohio Fair Election Network. Among other bills, legislation is pending in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee to eliminate “Golden Week,” the period during which residents can register to vote and cast ballots at the same time.