COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced an investigation has uncovered that hundreds of non-US citizens are registered to vote in the state, and dozens of them voted illegally.
According to a release from Husted, 385 people who are not citizens of the United States are registered to vote in Ohio. Out of those, 82 voted in at least one election in the last year.
Husted’s office says the 82 non-citizens who are registered to vote and cast ballots will be immediately referred to law enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution.
“In light of the national discussion about illegal voting it is important to inform our discussions with facts. The fact is voter fraud happens, it is rare and when it happens, we hold people accountable,” Secretary Husted said.
19 of the 82 non-citizens voted in the central Ohio area. 14 of those were in Franklin County, 2 were in Delaware County and 1 each in Fairfield, Licking and Union Counties.
The 303 registered voters identified as non-citizens who have not cast a ballot will be sent letters both informing them that non-citizens are not eligible to vote and requesting that they cancel their registration. A follow-up letter will be sent to any individuals that still remain on the rolls after 30 days. Any non-citizens identified that remain on the rolls after being contacted twice will then be referred to law enforcement, according to Husted.
“I have a responsibility to preserve the integrity of Ohio’s elections system,” Secretary Husted said. “When you consider that in Ohio we have had 112 elections decided by one vote or tied in the last three years, every case of illegal voting must be taken seriously and elections officials must have every resource available to them to respond accordingly.”
Husted added that none of the cases where a non-citizen cast a ballot occurred in jurisdictions where an election was decided by one vote or tied.
It’s possible for a non-citizen to register to vote in Ohio if they lie about their status on the voter registration form.
But Husted’s office now crosses the voter registration database with information at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Non-citizens with legal resident status can obtain a driver’s license or a state ID at the BMV. But, in doing so, they acknowledge their non-citizen status.
Husted’s review is able to identify people who have registered to vote as citizens but obtained a driver’s license as a non-citizen.
Husted said this year’s review found more registered non-citizens that two previous reviews in 2013 and 2015. “We’re getting better at doing the search and finding this information and also in a presidential election year you’re just going to have more people voting and so you’re going to have a bigger number,” Husted said.
And Husted admits there are likely other non-citizens registered to vote in Ohio but are not in the BMV’s system.
That’s why he has appealed to Washington for access to a federal Homeland Security database…
“If we had access to that information we could prevent this in advance and we could find out what the probably bigger number is of people who are on the voter rolls or who have voted and shouldn’t be.”