We have heard about those two hundred thousand fraudulent voters in Ohio, but what exactly they talking about. It goes beyond the “dead” and “double registered” In Ohio people are registered SIX times, and there are 46 people whose address is the middle of a parking lot. The Cincinnati Enquirer took a look at the Ohio voting rolls and reports on some of the more creative examples of voter fraud:
Eligibility questions could bring confusion, spur conflicts
By Gregory Korte
[email protected] In Hamilton County, 17 people are registered to vote from riverfront addresses south of Mehring Way – places with street numbers that would put their homes somewhere in the Ohio River.Another 46 voters are registered at addresses that would put their homes in the middle of the Paul Brown Stadium parking lot, or at the riverfront project known as The Banks – which hasn’t been built.An Enquirer analysis of more than 8 million Ohio voter registration records found a litany of quirks, inconsistencies, errors, duplicate registrations and other problems with little more than two weeks until Election Day.Thousands of voters appear on registration lists twice – some as many as six times. At least 589 registered voters – mostly in Franklin and Cuyahoga counties – were born in 1991 or later, which puts them under the legal voting age.Voters are registered at post office boxes, office buildings with no residences, police stations and even park benches.Some may be fraudulent, election officials say; many have more innocent explanations.Voting fraud in Ohio?
Either way, discrepancies in voter registration data present a major challenge to Ohio election officials, inevitably resulting in confusion over voter eligibility and disputes at polling places. The issue already has resulted in partisan challenges and a lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – issues that could intensify as Election Day approaches.”It’s definitely a concern. Obviously it should be fixed,” said Nathan Cemenska, an election law expert at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. He said it’s unlikely that inaccurate or fraudulent voter registrations could sway a national election.Still, “Election officials need to work on this. It’s a big public relations problem for them, but they’re between a rock and a hard place,” said Cemenska, a Democrat. “They get beat up in the media for having all these bad voters on the books, but if they take them off they open themselves up to criticism from the other side that they’re disenfranchising voters.”That’s exactly what happened last week, as the Ohio Republican Party took Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to court over her handling of the state’s voter registration roster.The Ohio GOP wanted Brunner, a Democrat, to release data to county boards of elections on more than 200,000 new voter registrations that did not match other government databases from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration.That data, Republicans said, would help elections officials identify fraudulent registration forms.• http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Dato=20081019&Kategori=NEWS0106&Lopenr=810190381&Ref=AR” target=”_new”>Deters subpoenas voters’ records
Brunner said using mismatches alone as a reason to disqualify a voter could result in thousands of voters being disenfranchised “because of federal government red tape, database matching errors and computer glitches.”The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Ohio GOP doesn’t have standing to bring a lawsuit. But the decision sidestepped the central issue: How far must election officials go to make sure that registered voters are real, living people qualified to vote?Voting irregularities The Enquirer analysis did not have access to other government databases the state uses to cross-check valid registrations. Instead, The Enquirer looked for inconsistencies within the Ohio Secretary of State’s master voter registration file as of Oct. 14. Registrations for this election closed Oct. 6.The Enquirer found at least 6,567 voters in Ohio who are registered at least twice from the same address. Of those, 157 voters – mostly in Cuyahoga County – are registered three or more times. Two voters from Cleveland appear on the voter rolls six times each – with six different voter identification numbers.That doesn’t include thousands more who may be registered twice at different addresses. They’re more difficult to identify because the secretary of state won’t release full dates of birth – only the year – for registered voters, making third-party cross-checking difficult.Having multiple registrations isn’t uncommon. Many voters may not realize they’re already registered and register again. It’s up to county boards of elections to check for duplicates and remove them.”Frankly, I’d rather have people in there twice than not at all. It’s not a big deal,” said Diane Goldsmith, who heads the voter registration department of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.”Those kind of people aren’t out to vote twice. What we’re more concerned about is the registrations we get, and we’re not sure if they’re real people.”Suspect documents Examples of suspect documents include multiple registration forms submitted in the same handwriting for different people. Or multiple forms for the same voter, with different Social Security numbers or dates of birth.Some names appear to be taken from the phone book – even with abbreviations like “Wm” for William or “Robt” for Robert. Goldsmith said many of those have been referred to the Secretary of State and the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.Voter registration forms don’t always identify how someone was registered, but a group frequently identified as a source of bad registrations is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. According to the Associated Press, the FBI is investigating the group in several states for alleged voter registration fraud.ACORN, which claims responsibility for registering 1.3 million low-income, minority and young voters, admits “errors in the process” that led to “a handful” of fraudulent registrations. But the organization said allegations of rampant fraud amount to partisan mudslinging.”It’s very frustrating to us. It may sound funny to people. But we have to spend hundreds of hours going over these forms. There’s a lot of registration fraud. That’s my belief,” said Goldsmith, a Republican. “Voter fraud is another issue. The fact that you have voter registration fraud might open the door to the potential of election fraud.”Registered at work Because Ohio voters have to show identification at the polls, a fictitious registration alone doesn’t translate into vote tampering.Still, bad voter registrations are problematic in several ways.Four people are registered to vote from 310 Ezzard Charles Drive – the Cincinnati Police Department’s District 1 headquarters. All are Cincinnati police officers, according to city payroll records, and some have been voting at the West End precinct since the early 1990s.It’s not uncommon. The Enquirer found similar examples in other police districts and with sheriff’s deputies in Hamilton and Butler counties. Election officials said they would look into the police officers’ registrations.”There’s some sort of urban legend or myth that police officers or certain persons don’t have to put their home address on their voter registration form. Everybody is supposed to be registered where they live, not where they work,” said Sally Krisel, the director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. She’s a Democrat.It’s not just a technicality. Legislative races and issues can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so voters registered at the wrong address may be voting on issues they have no right to vote on – and don’t get the chance to elect their own local officials. Two of the four police officers, for example, live in the city of Wyoming.Election officials said it’s difficult to identify voters who use business addresses, because so many commercial buildings also may include apartments. While disqualifying post office boxes is relatively straightforward, it can be more difficult to spot voters who try to use a private mail box service.Homeless voters Then there are homeless voters.In Hamilton County, there are more registered voters – 695 – at 217 W. 12th St. than any other single address.That’s the address of the Drop Inn Center, the state’s largest homeless shelter. It serves an average of 200 people a day, and about 3,700 over the course of a year.Using such an address is perfectly legal. In Ohio, there’s no law that says a citizen must have a home in order to vote – so homeless voters can theoretically list their “residential” address as a park bench or interstate overpass.That may be why some addresses appear to be on the banks of the Ohio River, or Great American Ball Park or the parking lot of Paul Brown Stadium.Another possible explanation: data entry errors. Election officials couldn’t immediately explain why their system accepted addresses in the 0-300 range of Elm, Race, Vine and Walnut streets – downtown addresses that don’t exist – as valid.One voter, for example, is registered to vote at 11 Elm St. – an address that, if it existed, would be in the river. But her apartment number suggests she once lived at 1111 Elm St. – a building owned by the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati that once contained apartments.Those kinds of errors could create problems for voters. The riverfront is in a different precinct than Over-the-Rhine, so the wrong address could mean that a voter is required to cast a provisional ballot or turned away for being at the wrong polling place.Database errors Data entry errors make matching voters to other databases an inexact science. Variations on first names (Dave vs. David, for example), maiden names and misspellings could cause an otherwise eligible voter to be red-flagged.In some cases, first and last names appear to be switched or missing. According to the Secretary of State’s database, 73 Ohio voters have last names of a single letter or character, including voters with last names like “%” and “].”County boards of elections are doing what they can to reconcile discrepancies by Tuesday, when they’re required to have poll books printed for the Nov. 4 election.On some level, election officials say, the system relies on the honesty of voters.”We have to take everything that comes in here basically on faith,” Goldsmith said.