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.”
In all of the cases, the non-citizens are in Ohio legally, Husted said. But Ohio and federal law prohibit non-citizens from voting. And in filling out paperwork to register to vote, the the people had to attest that they were citizens.
While the 17 who did vote were referred for prosecution, 274 others who did not vote will be contacted to allow them to voluntarily terminate their registrations.
“Each of them will received a letter reminding them that as non-citizens, they are not eligible to vote, and providing them forms to cancel their registrations,” Husted said. The attorney general’s office has concurred on that approach, he said.
There did not appear to be any pattern among the cases, Husted said. While larger counties tended to have the most cases, they were scattered among 29 counties, including some less populated ones.