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Secretary of State Husted Refers Lawrence County Absentee Ballot Application Irregularities for Prosecution

COLUMBUS – Secretary of State Jon Husted today referred an investigation into absentee ballot application irregularities in Lawrence County to the Ohio Attorney General and the Lawrence County Prosecutor for further review and possible prosecution. Initiated by former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and continued by Secretary Husted’s office, the investigation uncovered violations of elections law surrounding absentee ballot requests from the 2010 election that could constitute a fourth degree felony.

“Ohio’s elections laws exist to protect the rights of voters and preserve the integrity of our elections system,” Secretary Husted said. “Those who circumvent these laws must be held accountable.”

In the fall of 2010, the Lawrence County Board of Elections contacted the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to report over 100 absentee ballot applications requesting that the voters’ absentee ballots be sent to one of two post office boxes that did not belong to the voters requesting those ballots. Ohio law requires that absentee ballots be delivered in person or mailed directly to the voter requesting the ballot.

Upon a review of absentee ballot applications, board staff noticed that the handwriting in the “Send Ballot To” portion of the application differed from the handwriting in the “Voter Name” portion. Board staff contacted 10 of the voters who requested that their absentee ballot be sent to a post office box to find out whether they intended their ballots be sent somewhere other than their home address. In all 10 instances, the voters stated that they wanted the ballots sent to their home address, suggesting that the “Send Ballot To” portion had been completed after voters filled in the other portions of the application forms.

“Any effort to manipulate Ohio’s election system is a serious matter and will not be tolerated,” Secretary Husted said. “Violators will be dealt with accordingly.”

The referral letter is available here: www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/Upload/news/20110705.pdf

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