Ohio Secretary of State Wants Voter Fraud Investigation

Published Fri, Jul 8 2011 10:37 AM

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted sent a letter to the attorney general and county prosecutor to investigate a group of Democrats that allegedly committed voter fraud during the 2010 election. The investigation will determine if absentee ballots in Lawrence County were cast in circumvention of Ohio election law.

Although Mr. Husted’s letter does not specifically name any parties, testimony suggests that the investigation will focus on Russell Bennett, Butch Singer, Russell Malone, Steve Burcham (Lawrence County Treasurer), Steve Burcham’s wife, and Don Simmons (Democratic Party Committeeman). Mr. Husted wants an investigation to determine if they falsely represented on absent voter’s applications that the voter wanted his or her ballot sent to Russell Bennett’s post office box. At issue are 77 absentee ballots that were reportedly sent to the PO Box of Russell Bennett. Butch Singer testified that he gave absentee ballot applications he collected to others before he brought it to the board, dropping them off at different locations for Steven Burcham and Douglas Malone to collect.

The discrepancy was discovered last October, when a board of elections employee noticed that the handwriting in the “Send Ballot To” portion of the applications differed from that in the section with the voter’s name. The board then contacted 10 voters to see where they wanted their ballot sent. All 10 voters replied that they wanted their ballots mailed to them at their home address, suggesting that the ‘Send Ballot To’ portion of the absentee ballot application was completed after the voters filled in their application form.

If the investigation is opened, the attorney general and county prosecutor will likely pursue three charges. One charge investigated will likely be for knowingly making a false misrepresentation for obtaining an absent voter’s ballot. A second election law that would be violated states that no one should knowingly not forward an absentee ballot application to the appropriate election official that the voter entrusted him to do so. A third election law violated states that no one shall knowingly possess the absentee ballot of another voter unless the voter is confined or disabled. Violations of these election laws are fourth degree felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and $5,000 fine for each conviction.

In speaking about his reasons for requesting an investigation, Secretary of State Husted said:

There was an attempt to violate the election law with the attempt to cast and count fraudulent votes. If we didn’t believe there were irregularities that amounted to a violation of law we would not have referred it to the attorney general and the county prosecutor.

Luckily, thanks to the due diligence of officials at the Lawrence County Board of Elections, no fraudulent votes were counted. However, not all jurisdictions can be so lucky. Although this case of voter fraud seems to have been thwarted with proper charges brought against the perpetrators, there are still far too many instances of successful voter fraud in the United States.

To read Mr. Husted’s entire letter requesting an investigation, go here

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