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Bogus Claim of Voter Fraud in Ohio


Q: Were there “major signs of voter fraud” in Ohio’s congressional special election?

A: No. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office says there have been no reports of voter fraud.

FULL QUESTION

Recently there has been a report that a district in Ohio (district 12?) where 170 “registered voters” were showing as being 116 years old.  I have only been able to find this on sites such as Breitbart, Fellowship of the Mind, The Federalist Papers, Red State, so I seriously doubt the veracity of these numbers.  Can you determine if this is accurate?

FULL ANSWER

A special election for a congressional seat in Ohio is too close to call and some unreliable websites have filled the void with misinformation.

Since the Aug. 7 election, Republican Troy Balderson has maintained a slight edge over Democrat Danny O’Connor, but the Ohio secretary of state won’t have a complete count of all of the provisional and absentee ballots until Aug. 24.

In the meantime, some partisan websites have suggested that voter fraud is the culprit for the close election. One such story claimed that Balderson’s slim lead “just goes to show that voter fraud can have a huge impact on all kinds of elections in our country.”

That story’s headline said: “Red Alert: Major Signs of Voter Fraud Uncovered In Ohio.”

But that’s not true. There have been no “major signs of voter fraud” in Ohio.

In fact, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office has not received any reports of voter fraud following the Aug. 7 election, spokesman Sam Rossi told FactCheck.org in a phone interview.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who was elected to office in 2010, issued a statement a week after the election to dispel those rumors. He said, in part:

Husted statement, Aug. 13: First, I can assure all voters who participated in last Tuesday’s election that all eligible ballots will be counted – no exceptions. It is also important to keep in mind that the results provided on Tuesday are unofficial and the official results will not be available until county boards of elections complete the official canvass, which must be done by August 24.

As to concerns of potential voter fraud, my office has done a lot to clean up the voter rolls. During my tenure, we have removed more than 680,000 deceased voters, reconciled nearly two million duplicate registrations, and now have complete information on over 90 percent of voters – up from just 20 percent when I took office in 2011. As I have always said, while voter fraud exists, it is rare and we hold those who commit it accountable.

The bogus story borrowed heavily from a Breitbart article written by Eric Eggers, who works at the conservative Government Accountability Institute think tank, and recently published a book called, “Fraud: How the Left Plans to Steal the Next Election.”

In the only example he offers of alleged voter fraud, Eggers writes that there are 170 voters registered in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District who are over 116 years old. That’s wrong.

According to the most recent version of the roll for that district, there are 161 registered voters who have a birthdate listed as Jan. 1, 1800 or Jan. 1, 1900. But those dates are just place holders for voters who registered before birthdates became a required part of the registration process in 1974. They are not their real birthdates.

Ohio actually has a system for purging inactive voters from the rolls — so people who have moved, or have died, are taken off the rolls. If a person doesn’t vote for four consecutive years after failing to return a confirmation of address postcard sent by the state, his or her name is removed from the list of eligible voters. That system was just upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Although we couldn’t talk to everyone registered in the 12th District who was listed as being born in 1800 or 1900, we did talk to some of them and can confirm that they are living, breathing, eligible voters.

Charles Hacker, of Mansfield, Ohio, is one of them. He registered to vote in 1973, according to the voter roll, and his birthdate is listed as Jan. 1, 1800. But he was actually born in 1944, he told FactCheck.org in a phone interview. He’s 74 years old.

Similarly, Karen Morris, also of Mansfield, registered to vote in 1972, according to the roll. Her birthdate is also listed as Jan 1, 1800, but she was actually born in 1946.

“We’re both dedicated voters,” her husband, Larry Morris, told us in a phone interview. In fact, when they went to vote in the special election on Aug. 7, he said, one of the election officials told his wife, “You look awful young for having an 1800 birthday.” His wife had been unaware of the place holder date and changed it at that point. “I hope they get it straight now,” he said.

So, those voters that Eggers questioned may well live in that district — Charles Hacker and Karen Morris do. And they’re much younger than 116.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.

Sources

Red Alert: Major Signs of Voter Fraud Uncovered In Ohio.” Fbnewscycle.com. 9 Aug 2018.

Husted, Jon. Ohio Secretary of State. “Secretary Husted Addresses Misinformation & Misleading Claims Regarding Recent Special Election.” 13 Aug 2018.

Eggers, Eric. “Expert: 170 Registered Voters in Ohio’s 12th District Listed as Over 116 Years Old.” Breitbart.com. 8 Aug 2018.

Ohio Secretary of State. Congressional District 12 voter files. 11 Aug 2018.

Husted V. Philip Randolph Institute. No. 16-980. Supreme Court of the U.S. 11 Jun 2018.

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"Major signs of voter fraud uncovered in Ohio."
Thursday, August 9, 2018