State investigates Meigs for voter fraud

COLUMBUS — Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Thursday released the post-general election voter fraud report based on a review of cases by Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections and the Secretary of State’s office following the 2014 gubernatorial election.

The report identified 42 irregularities with 14 individuals being referred for additional investigation or prosecution.

One of the individuals is from Meigs County, although more information was not available at press time.

Meigs County Board of Elections Director Becky Johnston said her office had no information on the individual. According to Johnston, her office relayed the general voting information to the Secretary of State’s Office, which analyzed and reported the amount of irregularities and individuals who may be investigated for fraud. The Secretary of State’s Office could not be reached for comment by press time.

“The findings of this report demonstrate once again that voter fraud exists, it’s rare and we are holding people accountable for their actions,” Husted said. “Voter fraud, no matter how rare, reduces the confidence in our system of elections and it can’t be tolerated.”

In January , Husted issued Directive 2015-01, instructing all county boards of elections to adopt policies to review substantiated allegations of voter fraud or voter suppression. This is the state’s second voter fraud report, the first having been issued by Husted after the 2012 Presidential election.

Additionally, Ohio again participated in a cross match program with other U.S. states to identify people who may have voted in more than one state’s elections. This found two individuals who allegedly cast a ballot in Ohio and other states, Kentucky and Illinois. Husted will refer these two cases to the Attorney General for further investigation and possible prosecution.

The additional 12 cases were identified by county boards of elections and referred to the proper county prosecutor. The board reports have turned up zero cases where a voter was denied a ballot and no referrals have been made as a result of voters claiming suppression.

The Secretary of State’s Office said every case of alleged fraud identified by the boards of elections that included a voter attempting to cast multiple ballots was thwarted and no potentially fraudulent ballots are suspected of deciding an election.

“This report shows that the systems we have in place to ensure fair and honest elections are working and Ohioans should rest assured that their vote matters,” Husted said. “Anyone who may attempt to cheat the system in Ohio should be warned: We will find you and we will hold you accountable.”

These efforts to ward off fraud and hold people accountable are important because every vote counts and a single vote can often change the outcome of an election, Husted said. In the May 2015 primary and special election alone, five outcomes across Ohio were decided by a single vote or tied. Seventy-five races have been decided by the same margin over the past two years.