Review found 126 voted illegally in Ohio in past five years

Sec. of State says voter fraud still rare and vowed to hold people accountable.

Reviews of election data by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted found 821 non-citizens have registered to vote in the state over the past five years — 126 of whom cast ballots.

“Voter fraud exists. It’s rare. We hold people accountable when it happens. And we’re trying to build a better system so we can get out in front of this and it doesn’t happen in the future,” Husted told this newspaper on Monday.

The 821 improper registrations is out of more than 7.8 million registered voters in Ohio. The 126 apparently illegally cast ballots is out of 18.7 million votes cast in statewide primary and general elections held since 2013. In no instances did the non-citizens cast ballots in elections decided by one vote, Husted found.

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League of Women Voters of Ohio Executive Director Carrie Davis said the allegations should be put into the proper context.

“In November 2016, Ohio had 7,861,025 registered voters and, of those, 5,607,641 cast ballots in the November election. Husted’s 385 registered amounts to 0.004898 percent of total registered voters, and his alleged 82 votes cast amount to 0.001462 percent of the 5,607,641 total votes cast in November 2016,” Davis said in a written statement.

She also noted that the cases have yet to be investigated by law enforcement or heard in court.

Husted said the review is standard and not in response to President Trump’s statements that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.

Related: Husted at odds with Trump over claims of voter fraud.

Since 2013, Husted’s office has reviewed election data and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records to check against fraud: 291 non-citizens were found on the rolls in 2013, 145 in 2015 and 385 in 2017.

The 82 found this year to have cast improper ballots will be referred to prosecutors for possible criminal charges. Those who are registered but have not voted will receive letters informing them non-citizens cannot vote and asking them to cancel their registration. If they remain on the rolls after receiving two letters, they will be referred to law enforcement.

Husted argues that his office should have wider access to federal data, including records of non-citizens who have valid Social Security numbers.

“This would enable me and my counterparts in other states to prevent illegal registrations, and more importantly, reassure the public that steps have been take to ensure only eligible voters are participating in federal, state and local elections,” Husted said in testimony before Congress in 2015.

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Husted, a Republican, testified before Congress in 2015 against President Barack Obama’s executive action to provide access to Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses to non-citizens. He warned that these are the same documents used to register to vote.

Some non-citizens register and vote by mistake while others do it to impact the election, he said.

“I would say in the majority of the cases this is somebody who registers to vote who either didn’t know it was against the law or who is just in this country and trying to participate in democracy. But the bottomline is people who do this are guilty of a felony,” he said.

False voter registration is a fifth-degree felony and a conviction can affect their ability to remain in the United States and become citizens. This year’s analysis found non-citizens registered to vote in Montgomery, Clark, Miami, Darke, Shelby and Auglaize counties. Of those, two in Montgomery County voted, and one each in Auglaize, Darke and Shelby counties, according to Husted’s study.

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