Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has announced that his office has conducted an exhaustive review of the voting records in Ohio and that 821 non-citizens were illegally registered to vote in the Buckeye State. However, according to voting records, only 126 of those non-citizens have actually cast a vote in the three most recent elections, including a total of 82 who voted in 2016 elections in Ohio.
According to WCMH-TV, registered non-citizens who were not found to have cast an actual vote received a letter demanding that they cancel their voter registrations or face criminal penalties. The 126 non-citizens who were found to have actually voted in the most recent elections were immediately referred to law enforcement for investigation and possible prosecution. Husted’s office noted, WCMH reported:
“I have a responsibility to preserve the integrity of Ohio’s elections system,” Secretary Husted said. “When you consider that in Ohio we have had 112 elections decided by one vote or tied in the last three years, every case of illegal voting must be taken seriously and elections officials must have every resource available to them to respond accordingly.”
Husted added that none of the the cases where a non-citizen cast a ballot occurred in jurisdictions where an election was decided by one vote or tied.
Overall, 5,536,528 votes were cast in the presidential election in Ohio in 2016, which means that an almost infinitesimal portion (less than .002 percent) of the total votes were cast by non-citizens in Ohio.
The subject of voter fraud, and the extent of its pervasiveness, has long been a subject of contention between Republicans and Democrats. However, the issue has taken on new importance in light of President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated (but unverified) claim that “millions” of illegal votes were cast in 2016. Trump has repeated the claim in order to minimize the perceived political importance of his popular vote loss.
Trump has publicly asked for a nationwide investigation of voter fraud and mused aloud that the effort should perhaps be led by Vice President Mike Pence, but it is unclear at this point what concrete steps have been undertaken to begin such an undertaking, if any. The analysis conducted by Husted is thus far the largest sample of its kind that has been taken with respect to the 2016 vote and would seem to suggest that, in at least one large swing state, illegal voting was not nearly as prevalent as Trump has suggested.
However, it should be noted that the Ohio study did not purport to exhaustively examine other kinds of potentially illegal voting, including votes by felons or votes cast on behalf of deceased individuals, both of which have been implicated by Trump and other Republicans as possible sources of voter fraud.