Cincinnati election official Meloweese Richardson gained national notoriety when she was sentenced to five years in prison for voting more than once for President Obama in 2012, and similarly voting multiple times in past elections. She served only a few months of the sentence and was released on probation.
In 2008, Obama activists Daniel Hausman and Amy Little, both of New York State, and Yolanda Hippensteele of California, all voted in Ohio for Obama, taking advantage of “Golden Week,” a week that offers same-day voter registration. The three paid staffers from Vote Today Ohio, a Democratic get-out-the-vote group, were fined and given a suspended sentence.
“They care about power and are happy to let voter fraud continue in Ohio to gain power.”
In 2016, nearly every presidential poll in Ohio shows Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in a dead heat to win the state’s 18 electoral votes in November. Thus, the Left has launched a multi-front legal onslaught challenging the state’s election integrity measures.
“Ohio is totally targeted for fraud,” J. Christian Adams, general counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told LifeZette. “What happens in Ohio is we see people come from other states such as California and Massachusetts where they know their vote doesn’t matter, and exploit the loopholes.”
His organization has filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Ohio’s move to keep ineligible voters off the rolls. This prevents people who might have moved, are registered in more than one location, or no longer living — from casting a ballot (or having someone cast a ballot for them).
Though the 2012 and 2008 Ohio voter fraud cases have gotten the most attention, Adams has noted numerous cases at all levels in the state.
In May, an Ohio woman was indicted for allegedly creating phony voter registration documents for 35 people. She is charged with 32 counts of false voter registration and three counts false signatures. Last October, a judge overturned a close Lorain, Ohio city council election amid accusations of fraud. A crosscheck last year of voter rolls with the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles found that 436 non-citizens were registered to vote, and of that, at least 44 had actually voted.
“There is a reason Democrats were cheering Melowese Richardson after she was released from jail,” said Adams, a former Justice Department attorney. “It’s because they care about power and are happy to let voter fraud continue in Ohio to gain power.”
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s chief election official, has worked hard to tackle both voter fraud and voter suppression, while making it easier to vote than in other states, said Husted spokesman Joshua Eck.
“There are a lot of states around the country that have a lot stricter laws on voting than Ohio, and lawsuits aren’t popping up there,” Eck told LifeZette. “New York, for example, the home state of the Democrat and Republican nominees, has only one-day voting. It’s called Election Day. Litigation always happens prior to an election here because this is a swing state with a big electoral presence.”
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union are seeking to overturn an Ohio law that required people to fill out a form to verify their ID and bring proof of identification within seven days of casting a provisional ballot. In response to the Richardson 2012 case, the law also prevented election officials from casting a ballot on someone’s behalf without evidence of a disability.
Eck said under the new system, fewer people are casting provisional ballots and more provisional ballots are being counted because a larger number of people bring their identification.
The Ohio legislature responded to voter fraud in 2008 by eliminating “Golden Week,” a week when a voter could register and vote on the same day, with limited verification on whether the person was eligible.
The Ohio Democratic Party sued, along with the lead plaintiff in the case, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. A federal judge ruled it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act, claiming that African-Americans are more likely to vote during the week. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper lashed out at Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for appealing the ruling.
“In their appeal, Husted and DeWine blatantly disregard the fact that eliminating an additional week of early voting and same-day registration disproportionately impacted African-American voters,” Pepper said in a statement earlier this month. “The Ohio Democratic Party will always fight to protect the fundamental right to vote for all eligible citizens.”
In the aforementioned case, a liberal coalition is trying to stop Ohio from cleaning up its voter rolls. The Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute teamed with (once again) the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, with representation from the liberal group Demos, and the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union. Ohio won in the lower court, but the liberal groups have appealed.
Federal law requires states to properly maintain their voter rolls, and some Ohio counties had more registered voters than adult residents. So, the new policy is to look at registered voters who were inactive for six years or longer, and provide them with multiple notices that their voter registration is questionable.
Thus, if a voter is registered in two different locations, or if the Bureau of Motor Vehicles records a different address than the address the voter is registered under, then a process will begin that could eventually remove someone from the state’s voter rolls.
Eck stressed it is a lengthy process and each registered voter in question will have multiple opportunities to respond before their name is removed. He added that using information from the national Election Registration Information Center, the secretary of state’s office will provide registration information to non-registered but eligible voters across the state.
Husted’s office did reports on the state’s voter integrity climate for both 2012, when 20 double voters were flagged, and 2014, where 14 potential cases of illegal voting were discovered.
“Secretary Husted has put together a voter fraud and suppression report, asking every county board of elections to report any complaints about suppression and any accusations of fraud,” Eck said. “There have been zero cases of suppression and a decent number of fraud cases reported.”