Hamilton County Board of Elections investigates 45 new cases of potential voter fraud

CINCINNATI - The Hamilton County Board of Elections heard 45 new cases of potential voter fraud involving residents who used U.S. post office branches when registering to vote in the November 2012 election.

Forty-five cases were brought to the board by Joseph Janus, of Sycamore Township, and members of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (OVIP) on Wednesday.

Janus and OVIP claimed voters listed their addresses at eight of the 10 UPS stores in Hamilton County when they registered to vote in the fall election.

Prior to the hearing, subpoenas were issued to UPS store owners to try and gather more information about the voting status of each person. If the investigation turns up as voter fraud, the charge is a felony.

Some of the other cases included several voters who registered using the Sharonville post office on Reading Road as their address. In another case, a voter used the post office location on Cooper Road in Blue Ash because she said someone was trying to kill her at her home address.

Under Ohio law, people must register where they live in order to vote.

"My motivation is to make sure that people vote correctly from their residential address -- one vote for one person," said Janus.

OVIP is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that dedicates its efforts "to educate and involve citizens in various aspects of the electoral process to ensure unbiased and lawful elections for all residents of Ohio regardless of race or party affiliation," according to its website.

"We just have uncovered different areas that we think the board of elections needs to know about to make the system work smoother and perhaps there might be law changes that need to take place," said Mary Siegel of OVIP.

The board voted to challenge 36 of the 45 registrations. Still pending are possible challenges to 49 people who used UPS stores as their addresses for voter registration.

Dozens of cases involving double-voting may be referred to prosecuting attorney Joseph Deters for further review.

A ruling was sought regarding 67 Hamilton County cases because of a conflict in two Ohio election laws.
One states it's illegal to vote twice, but another allows voting an absentee and a provisional ballot to be cast if just one vote is counted.

The decision said all questionable cases should be reviewed by the prosecutor.

"The opinion of the prosecutor suggests that we ought to refer all 67 who voted an absentee ballot and then also voted a provisional ballot, but only had one vote counted," said Democratic Board Chairman Tim Burke.

"You heard some of the people who came down to testify. They were afraid that their absentee ballot wasn't going to get here on time. You heard in one case where a county commissioner recommended to her that if she was concerned about that, go vote a provisional ballot and the law allows that. It specifically says you can do that. That's why I don't believe there's any crime in that if that's all the voter did and they only got one vote counted," Burke continued.

Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou, however, said the law allows for an investigation of possible felonies in these cases.

"These citizen challenges have uncovered what I think is an epidemic of people registered to vote at these p.o. boxes all across this county at places they don't live. Voting where you don't live, where you don't reside, where you don't sleep at night, is a criminal offense and registering to vote there is also a criminal offense," said Triantafilou.

The board put off making a decision Wednesday, but when it does rule, it may have to go to the Ohio Secretary of State to break a two-two tie.

A Hamilton County Grand Jury has already indicted three people on voter fraud charges — a man who allegedly voted for his late wife, a nun and a Madisonville woman whom investigators say may have voted several times.

In addition, the board may review cases next month of a Kentucky resident possibly voting in Ohio and a disabled man whose caregiver might have filled out his ballot.

There is a way people can vote on Election Day even if they're not sure where they'll be living. They can go to the polling place where they're staying and request a provisional ballot. It won't be counted until the address is verified.

There have been some instances in the past where police officers have registered to vote using the police station address because they don't want their home address to become public record.

9 On Your Side reporter Tom McKee contributed to this report.

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