What Voter Fraud? Ohio Edition

I laugh when I read mainstream media articles about the lack of widespread voter fraud incidents as evidence it doesn’t exist.  If you don’t look for something you’ll never find it and that is the way media treats voter fraud. Many other people like John Fund do extensive work on the rampant voter fraud every election that largely goes ignored by the same media (and Democrats) who want to claim it doesn’t exist.  Even I had posts with extensive links to voter fraud nation-wide — strangely nearly always by one political party — when discussing attempts to purge illegal voters in Florida. Of course, Obama’s Department of Justice was on the case STOPPING the purge of illegal voters not assisting in the voter integrity initiative.

Now we see Ohio trying to tackle this behemoth and when Ohio tried to link in Obama’s Department of Justice to make certain they were not running afoul of Federal Guidelines the DOJ simply never returned the call.  But you can bet if Ohio undertook an extensive effort to purge these inactive and illegal voters, a DOJ SWAT team would be all over the Buckeye State right after they finished repealing the First Amendment rights of unsavory filmmakers. The Columbus Dispatch takes a deep dive at Ohio’s statewide bloated voter rolls problem:

More than one out of every five registered Ohio voters is probably ineligible to vote. In two counties, the number of registered voters actually exceeds the voting-age population: Northwestern Ohio’s Wood County shows 109 registered voters for every 100 eligible, while in Lawrence County along the Ohio River it’s a mere 104 registered per 100 eligible. Another 31 counties show registrations at more than 90 percent of those eligible, a rate regarded as unrealistic by most voting experts. The national average is a little more than 70 percent. In a close presidential election where every vote might count, which ones to count might become paramount on Election Day — and in possible legal battles afterward. Of the Buckeye State’s 7.8 million registered voters, nearly 1.6 million are regarded as “ inactive.” That generally means either they haven’t voted in at least four years or they apparently have moved.

Eric Holder asleep at the wheel

In a Feb. 10 letter, he asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a personal meeting to discuss how to balance seemingly conflicting federal laws so he could pare Ohio’s dirty voter list without removing truly eligible voters. “Common sense says that the odds of voter fraud increase the longer these ineligible voters are allowed to populate our rolls,” Husted said. “I simply cannot accept that.” Holder’s office has never replied. When contacted last week by The Dispatch about Husted’s letter, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman who did not wish to be identified by name said, “The department declines comment.” When asked to at least confirm whether anyone from Holder’s agency responded to Husted’s inquiry, the answer was, “No comment.” “As Ohio’s chief elections official, it is my responsibility to ensure the votes of every eligible voter are counted and ensure the integrity and accuracy of the results,” Husted said when he mailed the letter. “This is a difficult task when federal regulations limit Ohio’s ability to remove ineligible names, thereby increasing the chance for voter fraud.”

Judicial Watch spurring the clean-up

Husted’s letter came just four days after he was questioned about Ohio’s bulging voter rolls by Judicial Watch, which calls itself “a conservative, nonpartisan educational foundation (that) promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.” Unhappy because Husted has not substantially pared the rolls since that early February contact, Judicial Watch sued the Republican secretary of state in federal court in Ohio on Aug. 30. “Those (inactive voters) are all potential names that could be used for voter fraud,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “That’s a disaster, potentially. Certainly, it just shows that our lawsuit is right on target.” He said the group, which also is involved in similar lawsuits against Indiana and Florida, examined all 50 states and Ohio was among those that “bubbled to the top” as having the worst voter-registration records. “When you have a list that’s so wildly inaccurate, it undermines confidence in elections generally,” Fitton said. “Citizens in Ohio should be asking their elected officials what is going on here.”

Pushback as Democrat voting blocs impacted most (maybe that’s where the fraud is?)

Voter-rights groups are often suspicious of efforts to “clean up” voter-registration rolls. “We have found that purges do disproportionally affect African-Americans,” said Marvin Randolph, a senior vice president with the NAACP. When the civil-rights group and others conduct voter-registration drives, they often run across people who think that they are still registered but apparently have been purged, he said. Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra has been involved in several lawsuits against the secretary of state to ensure voter rights, including a current battle over which provisional ballots should be counted.

Inactive voters on both sides of the aisle

Of the inactive voters identified with a party, 53 percent are Democratic and 45 percent Republican, a Dispatch analysis shows. Roughly 750,000 haven’t voted in Ohio since at least 2007. But national-elections expert Doug Chapin, director of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration at the University of Minnesota, had kinder words for Husted, noting that many states are struggling with fundamental voting questions this year. “The fact that you’ve got a large number of people marked as inactive … is not unusual,” Chapin said. Under current federal law, elections officials cannot remove an inactive voter unless they can present prima facie evidence that he or she is no longer eligible, Chapin explained. “It’s no longer purely an administrative thing for elections officials for deciding who comes off the roles. It’s more subjective.”

Nationwide problem

In February, the Pew Center on the States released a study called Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient showing that about 24 million U.S. voter registrations were no longer valid or had significant inaccuracies. The research found: more than 1.8 million dead people listed as voters; about 2.75 million with voter registrations in more than one state; and about 12 million voter records with incorrect addresses, meaning either the voters moved or errors in the information make it unlikely any mailings can reach them. The latter category is where you’ll find most of Ohio’s 1.6 million inactive voters. “For the most part, these are individuals who have already had mail returned to the board of elections or have filed a change of address with the U.S. post office,” said Husted spokeswoman Maggie Ostrowski. Yet they are still officially registered to vote in Ohio and can cast a ballot if they provide a valid form of identification and their signature matches the one on file. Even the 70,000 registered voters who have told the U.S. Postal Service they are moving out of state cannot be purged, Ostrowski noted. The secretary of state instead is sending each one a letter asking them to voluntarily withdraw their Ohio registration; but if they don’t, they must remain on the rolls.

The Ohio solution

Postcards are going out to about 330,000 Ohioans who filled out change-of-address forms, suggesting they update their voter registration through an online change-of-address system begun a little more than a month ago. So far, 19,000 people have used it, Ostrowski said. Removing inactive voters from the rolls is complicated and usually takes several years. A “how to” memo last year from Husted to local elections workers stretched 23 pages. Since taking office in January 2011, Husted has removed the names of more than 150,000 dead voters as well as hundreds of thousands of duplicate registrations, Ostrowski said. The state now gets access to records for Ohioans who die outside the state; previously, they saw only in-state death records. He partnered with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles to improve the state’s voter-registration database so elections workers could cross-check voter identities. At a cost of $1.4 million, Husted also is mailing absentee-ballot applications statewide — but generally only to those on the active-voter list. Ostrowski said elections officials figured it would be a waste of money to send them to the inactive voters because they’re likely not there to return them.

One Comment

  1. AussieMarcus
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It seems ridiculous that the US doesn’t have independent electoral commissions, and leaves control of election conduct in the hands of partisan officials.

    Here in Australia, we have an independent commission: it maintains the rolls, draws the electoral boundaries, issues the ballots, mans the polling stations, counts the votes, and reports the results. There is basically 100% confidence in the system. If you move house, you’ll get a letter within a few weeks reminding you to update your details. If you don’t, you get booted off the roll. Dodgy looking things like 20 people registered at the same address will get you a nice phone call or letter asking you what the hell is going on.

    Whenever I put this to Americans, they answer one of four ways (none of which sound that convincing to me…..)

    a) Some variation of “Individual states rights”, “one size doesn’t fit all” and “we won’t be told by Washington how to run our state!”
    b) “The other party screwed our side over for years, why should we give them fairness now we’re in charge?”
    c) The Independent commission will be biased against our side
    d) Too much trouble/too expensive/can’t be bothered/if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    It’s obvious people have little confidence in the system. Fraud and “110% turnouts” are almost laughed off and accepted as normal. Yet they also seem very unwilling to embrace an independent umpire which would end many of these problems for good.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] them inconsequential on election outcomes.  They repeat this second line of attack no matter how many incidents of fraud you put in front of […]

  2. […] at stopping this activity.  Without funding it is harder and harder to prove them wrong no matter how many incidents of fraud proponents site. James O’Keefe of Project Veritas is apparently […]

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