Letter: Remaining vigilant about voter fraud
Voter fraud has been a highly debated topic over the past year. Since the 2016 General Election, pundits have been endlessly debating whether or not voter fraud is present and to what extent it has influenced the outcomes of our elections. One thing is certain, any occurrence of election fraud must be taken seriously and the perpetrators should face justice. Though our system of elections is the best in the world, fraud can occur.
Recently, the Columbus Dispatch ran an article by Jim Siegel identifying 36 cases of non-citizens voting which occurred in elections between the years of 2012 to 2016.
These cases of alleged illegal voting were identified thanks, in part, to Senate Bill 63, legislation I authored which received bipartisan support and was signed into law in September 2016. The bill requires the Secretary of State to conduct an annual review of the voter rolls to determine whether any individuals who are not U.S. citizens are registered to vote. It also requires that voter information be instantly cross-checked with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ internal database upon completion of an online registration. The new system helps prevent fraud by verifying citizenship and other necessary information.
These cases, seven of which have led to criminal indictments, are proof that the process created in our bill is working. Although fraud may be limited in scale, it undermines the confidence of voters and could impact the outcome of tight contests. Even one instance must not be tolerated. Thanks to the yearly voter citizenship checks that are conducted as a result of this legislation these individuals are removed from the voter rolls and sometimes even criminally charged for their actions.
The Secretary of State, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and county prosecutors have done a good job of implementing the law as it was intended by both Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 63 has made a difference, but that doesn’t mean we can stop thinking of new ways to identify and combat voter fraud. Currently, I am working on a piece of legislation that would equip the Ohio Attorney General to investigate and prosecute potential cases of fraud if the local prosecutor chooses not to do so. I look forward to the ongoing dialogue on this important issue. I will continue working to simultaneously protect the integrity of our elections while also assuring that every eligible Ohioan can easily access their right and responsibility to vote.
Ohio State Senator
Letter to the Editor by Senator Frank LaRose to The Columbus Dispatch on September 29th, 2017.
Read the publication for the Columbus Dispatch here.