June 30, 2016

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Elections chief finds minor voter fraud

Staff and wire reports

Ohio’s elections chief said Thursday a first-of-its-kind statewide review found instances of voter fraud in the battleground state during last year’s presidential election but not rampant abuses.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said the investigation he ordered in January of Ohio’s 88 county elections boards resulted in 135 potential cases being referred to law enforcement for investigation out of 625 reported cases of voting irregularities.

Jon Husted

Of the 135, 10 were from Medina County. One was referred to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine by Husted’s office and nine were referred to county Prosecutor Dean Holman by the board of elections. The cases included:

• A person voted in Ohio and Florida. This case was referred to DeWine.

• A former county resident voted on Election Day in Medina and Summit counties. The person resides in Summit.

• An absentee ballot requested Sept. 11. The board mailed the ballots the first week of October and the ballot was filled out and returned — even though the person died Sept. 13, according to Medina County Health Department records.

• Four absentee ballots had signatures that didn’t match the ones on voting rolls. When the voters were contacted and asked to come into the office to cast a ballot, none responded.

• Three provisional ballots were cast by voters who also cast absentee ballots.

Husted’s office reported an 11th case in Medina County that was not referred to local law enforcement.

Elections board Director Carol Lawler said she’s not aware of an 11th case.

Of the nine cases referred to Holman, none have resulted in charges.

“We’re working the cases,” he said. “We decided after investigation that some don’t have merit, and others we’re continuing to work.”

He said other “pressing matters” have forced the office to slow the voter fraud investigations.

“Voter fraud does exist, but it’s not an epidemic,” Husted said, noting fraud cases represent a tiny fraction of the 5.6 million Ohio votes cast last year.

Most of the 135 cases were caught before fraudulent votes were counted, Husted said.

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