As county and state officials move to investigate and potentially prosecute voter fraud cases, local groups are pushing back, warning that the investigations could cause a chilling effect among voters.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls became the latest to speak out in a June 7 letter to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“The current legal investigations perpetuate the idea that voter fraud is widespread, when it’s not true,” she wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWV) sent similar letters to Husted in the past few weeks, echoing fears that investigations will scare voters into staying out of future elections.
The controversy surrounds 39 “double voter” cases recently sent to the county prosecutor by the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
In most of the cases, the voters in question sent in an absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voted on Election Day through a provisional ballot, which are given to voters when there are questions about eligibility. Their votes were only counted once.
Sections of Ohio law say voters who show up to vote on Election Day after filing an absentee ballot should be given a provisional ballot, but the vote can only be counted once.
Husted broke a tie vote in the Hamilton County Board of Elections on May 31, siding with Republicans on the board who wanted to send the cases to the county prosecutor.