Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has finally closed the investigation into possible voter fraud in the 2012 election, declaring, “voter fraud does exist, but it is not an epidemic.”
To illustrate his point, Husted noted that the 135 cases of possible voter fraud referred for further investigation are a tiny percentage of more than 5.6 million votes cast in the presidential election last November. Most of these cases involved people who tried to double-vote by either voting in two different precincts or sending an absentee ballot and then showing up at the polls. According to a Cincinnati Enquirer report, most of these voters were not trying to swing the election illegally, but were worried their ballots got lost in the mail or followed incorrect instructions from poll workers.
Husted emphasized the fact that the safeguards in the voting system prevented these people from actually getting both their votes counted, as most cast one or more provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are used if there is some question regarding the voter’s eligibility, and are often discarded even if the voter is legitimate.
Conservative groups searching for compelling evidence of in-person voter fraud have seized on Ohio’s investigation as proof that voting restrictions, like strict voter ID laws, are necessary. Before the election, Husted toyed with supporting a strict voter ID law pushed by Republican lawmakers, but ultimately dropped it despite enthusiastic Republican support. After the voter fraud investigation, however, Husted observed that “a photo ID wouldn’t have mattered in most of these cases.”
However, the Secretary was quick to note that the investigation uncovered no evidence of voter suppression. Husted became one of the most notorious election officials of 2012 due to his multiple attempts to bend the law and restrict early voting hours despite multiple counties’ requests to stay open to accommodate residents. A report after the election determined that Husted’s early voting restrictions created much longer lines for urban voters than those in suburban or rural areas. Though Husted is claiming there was no formal evidence of voter suppression, the marathon lines endured by thousands of voters in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati speak for themselves.