Six alleged voter fraud head to Prosecutor Joe Deters' office

CINCINNATI - Six cases of alleged voter fraud are headed to the office of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to be reviewed for possible criminal charges.

That was the decision Friday by the four members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections during a Friday afternoon meeting downtown.

The decision came at the end of two hearings into 19 cases where citizens were suspected of casting more than one ballot in the November 2012 General Election.;

The prosecutor already is reviewing two of the six cases -- the matter of Madisonville's Melowese Richardson and the matter of Rose Marie Hewitt.

Board members have been instructed not to conduct any further inquiries into either case, since Deters' office believes there is probable cause to believe crimes have been committed in each of them.

Melowese Richardson, a former poll worker, is accused of voting an absentee ballot and then voting in person on Election Day.  She admitted to 9 On Your Side in a Feb. 6 interview that she voted twice but didn't intend to commit any voter fraud.

Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke said hers was the only case where both votes were counted. In every other situation, he said board workers caught problems and only counted one vote for each citizen.

Burke added that Richardson is also being looked at for possibly casting ballots for five or six other voters.

"I can't understand these charges against me," Richardson said in that Feb. 6 interview. "Have they never heard of a simple mistake? Have they never heard of overlooking? Mailing in a ballot registering to vote at a precinct after you've forgotten that you mailed in a ballot? Or been told that it may be too late?"

Richardson appeared at the board of elections with her attorney, but did not testify before the board. Her lawyer conferred briefly with prosecutors and then he and her client left the building.

The case of Sister Rose Marie Hewitt, a Sister of Charity, involves her ballot allegedly being filled out and submitted after she died on Oct. 4, 2012.

The prosecutor's office said it's investigating whether another nun, Sister Marge Kloos, dean of arts and humanities at the College of Mount St. Joseph, cast that ballot. The two women shared a house on Neeb Road in Delhi Township.

The four other cases referred to the prosecutor's office were:

  • Margaret Allen -- allegedly voted absentee, but is not a Hamilton County resident
  • Betty Ann Glossop -- ballot received after death
  • Ernestine Strickland -- lives in Tennessee, but allegedly voted in Hamilton County while staying for six months with family members in Colerain Township
  • Andre Wilson -- allegedly registered and voted during Golden Week, listing an address that was not his home

After the hearing, board members pointed to the Richardson's case as one that undermined voter confidence in the election process.

"She took advantage of her position as an inside poll worker to allow herself to get two votes counted and she is the only person that we are aware of in this election who had two votes counted," said Burke.  "Then, on top of that, it appears she voted for a number of other voters as well -- perhaps as many as five or six."

The board is also asking the prosecutor for a legal opinion on a possible voting law conflict. On one hand, voters can't vote twice, but on the other, they can cast an absentee and provisional ballot.

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