CINCINNATI -- At least three dead people have been registered to vote in Hamilton County this year, according to Hamilton County Board of Elections member Alex Triantafilou, raising concerns about voter fraud in the Buckeye State.
Vincent Bankhead, who was shot and killed in Over-the-Rhine six years ago, will not make it to the polls this November. Neither will businessman and community leader Howard Bond, who died last year at 77. But, Triantafilou wrote in an email Monday night, both of them have been registered to vote in the upcoming election.
"The woman who now lives in (Bond’s) house came to our board meeting and was rather irate that someone fraudulently attempted to register to vote at her address," Triantafilou said.
Statistics on voter fraud and voter impersonation are controversial, but a 2014 article in the Washington Post asserts that the incidence of either is relatively low: its experts found about 31 credible cases since the turn of the century. Still, every case is a potential cause for concern.
"Under Ohio law, we have the power (and the duty) to ‘investigate’ voter fraud, and we will do that," Triantafilou said. “I expect when that’s done that I will vote to refer this case to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation."
Triantafilou said it's not often that someone tries to register using a dead person's name, but it's important to be vigilant.
"It's one of those things where if it happens even once or twice, it undermines people’s confidence in the system is why we should act strongly when we find it," he said.
Although it is possible to register under a dead person's name, it’s substantially more difficult to vote with one. To vote in person in Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky, each voter must bring a valid form of photo identification to the polls; to vote absentee, they must meet a state-specific set of criteria and (usually) provide similar identification.
Sherry Poland, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said there are numerous cross-checks to ensure a voter's registration is valid. If it's not, "our system flags these individuals, and also our staff here recognized that and took action," she said.
Triantafilou said if it appears there was criminal activity at play, the Board of Elections will refer the case to the Hamilton County prosecutor.
There's a bipartisan effort to keep ballots secure, he said: Political parties have poll observers to observe the election, and the Board of Elections has poll watchers hired to work the polling places.
"We run this election with great integrity in Ohio, and I have no concerns about a rigged or fixed election," he said.
Election Day is Nov. 8.
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