By Jim Provance
Secretary of State Jon Husted on Monday said his latest review of Ohio's voter registration rolls uncovered 385 more noncitizens, 82 of whom have apparently cast illegal ballots.
Mr. Husted plans to refer the 82 who voted to county prosecutors for possible felony prosecution, but will give the other 303 the opportunity to voluntarily remove themselves from the voter rolls.
The 385 registrations represent 0.0049 percent of the nearly 7.9 million Ohioans on the rolls.
The 82 allegedly illegal votes equal 0.0015 percent of the 5.6 million Ohio votes cast in November.
"Voter fraud and noncitizen voting do exist," Mr. Husted said. "It's rare. We hold people accountable when it happens, and we're building a better system to try to prevent it from happening in the future.
"In light of the national conversation, we want to share the facts," he said. "Some people look at the facts and say we have very few among millions of voters, so it's not a big deal. Others will look at this as validation that voter fraud is real and could impact an election. Both sides have a point."
Since Mr. Husted began these reviews of the registration rolls four years ago, he has discovered a total of 821 citizenship discrepancies, including 126 noncitizens who allegedly voted illegally and were referred for possible prosecution.
Mr. Husted cross-referenced the registration database with citizenship data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Generally, these people flagged are legal residents self-identified as noncitizens when applying for Ohio drivers' licenses.
The state's largest county, Cuyahoga, had 61 residents who were improperly registered and another 16 who actually voted, according to the secretary of state's office.
In Lucas County, the system flagged five noncitizens who have allegedly voted illegally and 10 more who were registered.
Elsewhere, in northwest Ohio:
--Wood County: Three were improperly registered and one more voted.
--Fulton County: Two noncitizens were registered.
--Allen County: Two noncitizens were registered and two more voted.
--Sandusky County: One noncitizen voted.
--Erie County: One noncitizen voted.
--Van Wert County: A single person each registered and voted.
--Williams County: One noncitizen voted.
--Henry County: One noncitizen was registered.
"This is a sad attempt to bolster the President's lie about massive voter fraud," said state Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D., Kent), a potential 2018 candidate for secretary of state. "Secretary Husted's own numbers again prove that ineligible people voting is almost nonexistent."
Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, noted the allegations have yet to be proven.
"In the current highly charged political environment of border walls, bans on who may enter the country, and immigration raids, it is deeply troubling that a state government office would choose to issue a statement in bold letters proclaiming unlawful activity by noncitizens," she said. "Surely, the secretary's office could have found a less inflammatory way of stating that the office scrutinizes voter rolls for possible errors."
Mr. Husted, a Republican, repeated his call for the federal government to give him real-time access to a Homeland Security database of noncitizens with Social Security numbers.
Husted spokesman Josh Eck said follow-up information from county prosecutors has been spotty. Of 44 people referred to prosecutors before this year, at least eight were convicted. Two more cases are still pending.
Seven of those flagged were found to have become naturalized citizens so that, while they have been improperly registered before that, they voted legally as citizens.
"While there's no evidence that these votes have impacted the outcome of an election, we know that in the last four years in Ohio there have been 112 elections decided by one vote or were tied," Mr. Husted said. "Every vote matters, and any illegal vote can have an effect."
(c)2017 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)