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Friday, February 10, 2012

Secretary of State Husted to Attorney General Holder: Inconsistent Federal Law Opens Door to Potential Voter Fraud
Secretary of State analysis shows that in two Ohio counties, there are more registered voters than people of voting age population

COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today sent a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a meeting to resolve the inability of states such as Ohio to maintain accurate voter rolls due to inconsistent sections of federal law.

Federal Census data reports the number of Ohioans by voting age population. A comparison with Ohio’s statewide voter database identified that two Ohio counties, Morrow and Wood, have more registered voters than the 2010 Census data indicate are of eligible voting age. Specifically, Morrow County reported having 26,018 registered voters while Census data showed that only 25,834 residents in the county were of eligible voting age. In Wood County, Census data showed 98,213 residents were of eligible voting age, yet the county reports having 104,450 registered voters – a 106 percent registration rate. In other Ohio counties, registration rates appear unusually high – most at 85 percent or higher. While Secretary Husted would like to see every Ohioan who wants to vote be registered, voter rolls should be 100 percent accurate with only eligible Ohio voters represented.

“As Ohio’s chief elections official, it is my responsibility to ensure the votes of every eligible voter are counted and ensure the integrity and accuracy of the results,” Secretary Husted said. “This is a difficult task when federal regulations limit Ohio’s ability to remove ineligible names, thereby increasing the chance for voter fraud.”

Secretary Husted’s office has worked aggressively with all Ohio counties to bring voter rolls as up-to-date as possible. However, inconsistent provisions contained within the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) limit what can be done. The NVRA requires states to conduct maintenance on voter lists to ensure accuracy of the rolls, but only permits the removal of voters under certain circumstances (if a person is deceased, is an ineligible felon, or has either confirmed a change of address or requested to have their registration canceled). As a result, Ohio’s county boards of elections must wait years to remove potentially ineligible voters, even in circumstances where the evidence suggests these individuals have moved and should not be eligible. Under these provisions, it is possible for an individual to move to another state without canceling their Ohio voter registration and register to vote in their new state of residence.

“The longer ineligible voters are permitted to remain on the rolls the greater the chance Ohio has of seeing an increase in voter fraud, which is something I refuse to accept heading into a presidential election,” Secretary Husted stated.

Secretary Husted is hopeful that a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Holder will allow the two to discuss a solution allowing Ohio to better maintain is voter rolls.

“I look forward to working with Attorney General Holder to support the values and principles espoused by the NVRA,” Secretary Husted said. “However, at some point, there must be a common sense approach to maintaining voter rolls that does not provide an easy pathway for voter fraud.”

A copy of the letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Holder, as well as a link to a Census data and registered voters comparison document has been included below.

Additional Information

Census Data & Registered Voters Comparison Spreadsheet (Excel) (PDF)

February 10,2012
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

Since becoming Ohio's Secretary of State in January of 2011, I have worked hard to expand voter registration opportunities for Ohio citizens, while remaining vigilant against a potential corresponding increase in voter fraud.

This balance between expanded voter access and voter roll accuracy is exactly what the U.S. Congress had in mind when it passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993. Section 7 of the NVRA rightly seeks to expand the roll of registered voters in each state. Section 8 of the NVRA contains the NVRA's list maintenance provisions, and works in concert with Section 7, by allowing states to remove the names of ineligible voters from state voter rolls.

I am committed to ensuring that the worthy aims of both Section 7 and Section 8 are achieved in Ohio, especially as we approach the presidential election this year. This is critical for earning and maintaining the confidence of Ohio's citizens in our electoral process.

Despite my dedication to cleanse our voter rolls of out-of-date records and ineligible voters, I find my efforts hampered by inconsistent provisions of the NVRA.

Based on data provided by the federal government, (U.S. Census Bureau; website: http://censtats.census.gov/usa/usa.shtml), my office compared, county by county, the "Resident population 18 years and over (April 1-complete count) 2010" with our statewide voter registration totals of registered voters for each county. Our analysis identified that two Ohio counties have more registered voters than the 2010 Census data indicate are of eligible voting age.

This means there are ineligible voters on our rolls. Common sense says that the odds of voter fraud increase the longer these ineligible voters are allowed to populate our rolls. I simply cannot accept that.

I am compelled, if not required, to scrub the voter rolls of ineligible names in the affected counties. Indeed, I have endeavored to remove every ineligible voter that I can (both in the affected counties, and statewide) pursuant to the restrictions of Section 8 of the NVRA.

Unfortunately, however, Section 8 of the NVRA prohibits me from removing any name from a voter roll unless the removal results from a notification that the individual is an ineligible felon or is deceased, or if the voter has confirmed a change of residence and/or requested a registration cancellation. These restrictions mean that county boards of elections have to wait years to remove potentially ineligible voters from the rolls even in circumstances where the evidence suggests that these individuals should not be eligible. The very federal law enacted, in part, to promote integrity of the voter rolls is preventing me from fulfilling my duty to Ohioans under Section 8 to make a "reasonable effort" to remove ineligible voters from our voter rolls.

I want to ensure that every eligible voter in Ohio is able to vote and that his or her vote counts. Ineligible voters on our rolls, however, threaten to dilute the value of each valid vote. I have done as much as I can to ensure the integrity of the voter rolls in Ohio, but I need help.

Accordingly, faced with seemingly inconsistent statutory requirements, and knowing that it is your responsibility to ensure that each state obeys the requirements of Section 8 of the NVRA, I am hereby requesting a personal meeting to discuss a solution that would permit me to remove ineligible voters, thereby maintaining the integrity of Ohio's voter registration rolls and reducing the opportunity for voter fraud in Ohio.

I look forward to your response and a productive discussion.

Jon Husted
Ohio Secretary of State

cc: The Honorable John Boehner, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Sherrod Brown
The Honorable Rob Portman
The Honorable Steve Austria
The Honorable Steve Chabot
The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge
The Honorable Bob Gibbs
The Honorable Bill Johnson
The Honorable Jim Jordan
The Honorable Marcy Kaptur
The Honorable Dennis J. Kucinich
The Honorable Steven C. LaTourette
The Honorable Robert E. Latta
The Honorable Jim Renacci
The Honorable Timothy Ryan
The Honorable Jean Schmidt
The Honorable Betty Sutton
The Honorable Steve Stivers
The Honorable Patrick Tiberi


For more information, please contact Matt McClellan at 614-995-2168 or mmcclellan@ohiosecretaryofstate.gov.


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