Ohio’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, said Monday that while election fraud in Ohio is not the big problem that some activists and candidates would have you believe, it does happen in small numbers.
A standard review of potential problems netted 13 non-US citizens who were registered to vote and actually cast a ballot in the 2020 election. Two of them are from Montgomery County. No names have been released.
LaRose, a Republican from northeast Ohio, said another 104 non-US citizens were also registered to vote but did not take part in the election last year.
LarRose said 8 of them are from Montgomery County, 1 from Greene County and 1 from Preble County. Voting and even registering to vote are both illegal for non-US citizens.
“Citizenship matters. It is an important status and something we should all treasure. And with that comes the ability to be a voter. We want all Ohioans who are eligible to be able to cast a ballot but certainly that means only citizens are able to do so,” LaRose said.
How could it happen?
LaRose theorizes that some people may accidently register to vote at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. He said people are usually handed a form to sign if they are interested in registering to vote.
According to LaRose, those with limited English language skills may sign the form, along with many other forms, not realizing that they were signing up for something that would be illegal for them to do as a non-US citizen.
LaRose said at the end of the form the person confirms that they are a citizen, but he believes many may sign it out of haste.
The Secretary of State’s office attempted to contact the voters in question by mail but none of them responded.
When he was a state lawmaker several years ago, LaRose sponsored a bill to streamline the voter registration process at the BMV.
He wanted to determine up-front if the person signing up to vote is a US citizen before they even fill out the registration form. He says it would prevent any confusion later.
LaRose’s plan did not pass when he proposed it as a legislator, but the same proposal is contained in an election reform plan now pending in the Ohio House of Representatives.
LaRose noted that more than 5.9 million ballots were cast in last year’s Presidential Election in Ohio and the state’s election system remains secure.
The number of ballots cast by non-US citizens is only a small fraction of a percentage of the vote, yet he thinks it is important to be transparent about efforts by his office to detect and deal with it.
“When those things come to our attention, we prosecute them. We work with our county boards of elections to refer them to the county Prosecutor but I continue to believe that those instances are rare but when they happen it is a serious matter,” LaRose said.
The cases of the non-citizens who were registered and those who actually cast a ballot are being advanced to Ohio Attorney General David Yost for further review and potential prosecution.
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