COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s elections chief on Monday referred for possible prosecution 117 apparent noncitizens who either registered to vote or cast a ballot last year — a tiny fraction of the state’s electorate and a significantly reduced number from two years ago despite record 2020 turnout.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that of those, 13 cast ballots and 104 registered but did not vote. They were identified as part of a routine review and referred to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
“The bottom line is this: Citizenship matters. It’s an important status that we should all treasure,” LaRose said at a Statehouse news conference. “With that, comes the ability to be a voter. We want all Ohioans who are eligible to be able to cast a ballot, but certainly that means only citizens are able to do so.”
Ohio has more than 8 million registered voters. Ohio does not allow noncitizens to register or vote.
LaRose made a similar referral of 277 individuals to Yost after the 2018 election, including 77 who cast a ballot. Only a handful were ever prosecuted, according to data from the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.
Ohio produced an extraordinary level of access in last year’s presidential election, setting records with nearly 6 million votes cast and a 74% turnout that tops the average of the past 20 years.
LaRose said citizenship could be checked at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles under changes he is advocating to a sweeping election reform bill pending in the state Legislature.
He said he would like to see the bill adjusted to allow more access to drop boxes at county boards of elections, a position shared by the Ohio Association of Election Officials.