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Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. (Photo by Dwayne Slavey / 9 On Your Side)
A divorce petition by Prosecutor Joe Deters’ wife has led to accusations that he voted and ran for office under false addresses, and the head of the county Democratic party wants state officials to investigate.
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CINCINNATI – A divorce petition by Prosecutor Joe Deters’ wife has led to accusations that he voted and ran for office under false addresses in 2012 and 2013, and the head of the Democratic party in Hamilton County wants state officials to investigate.
Tim Burke made the request Monday in a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Deters, Husted and DeWine are Republicans.
In the letter, Burke, chairman of the county board of elections, said Deters’ office has aggressively prosecuted improper voting cases but he said Republicans on the board “have refused to allow this matter to even be discussed at a Board of Elections meeting, let alone investigated.”
RELATED: See Burke's letter below or at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/844574-tim-burke-accuses-joe-deters-of-voting-illegally.html
Burke said Melissa Hendon Deters’ divorce petition, dated Nov. 22, states that Deters moved out of the couple’s Symmes Township home on July 8, 2012.
According to Burke, election records show that Deters used the Symmes Township address when he voted in 2012 and used the same address on April 23, 2013 to sign a candidate’s petition for last month’s election.
If his wife’s assertion is true, Deters violated the Ohio Revised Code rules for determining residency in a situation where spouses are separated, Burke said.
ORC 3503.02(D) states: “The place where the family of a married person resides shall be considered to be the person’s place of residence; except that when the spouses have separated and live apart, the place where such a spouse resides the length of time required to entitle a person to vote shall be considered to be the spouse’s place of residence.”
If Deters moved out when his wife said he did, and if he lived in the city “as has been suggested,” Deters was not entitled to use his Symmes Township address to vote in 2012 or sign a re-election petition in 2013, Burke said.
“These actions suggest that both Ohio Revised Code 3599.12(a)(1) , prohibiting voting in a precinct in which one is not qualified to vote, and 3599.13(a)(1) , signing a nominating petition one is not qualified to sign, may have been violated,” Burke wrote.
Deters changed his voting address to downtown on July 15, 2013, according to Burke.
Burke acknowledged that "the issues in a divorce proceeding are extremely personal and may be subject to factual dispute.”
A Deters spokesperson issued this statement:
“Because of his children, Joe considers this matter extremely private and personal. When Joe realized that he no longer intended to live in his house, he immediately changed his voting address. He voted in this year’s municipal election in the City of Cincinnati.”
Deters previously said his office investigated 45 allegations of voter fraud in the 2012 election and prosecuted six persons for voting illegally.
“Elections are a serious business and the foundation of our democracy,” Deters said in a news release when the charges were announced. “In the scheme of things, individual votes may not seem important but this could not be further from the truth. Every vote is important and every voter and candidate needs to have faith in our system.”
Melowese Richardson , a long-time poll worker, was sentenced to five years in prison after admitting voting illegally nine times over the years. That included voting twice for President Obama in 2012.
Three others were placed in a diversion program:
• Sister Marguerite Kloos admitted submitting an absentee ballot for her roommate, a nun who died before receiving her ballot.
• Russell Glassop admitted voting absentee for his dead wife.
• Margaret Allen admitted submitting an absentee ballot in Hamilton County even though she didn’t live in the county.
Two other cases are pending.