Illegal voting case closed by Ross County prosecutor following investigation


By Ashley Bunton - abunton@civitasmedia.com



A person who attempted to vote twice in the 2016 general election will not be charged by the Ross County Prosecutor’s Office.

The individual was registered to vote in Fayette County but recently had moved to Ross County. On Election Day, the person voted by a provisional ballot at the Ross County Board of Elections. The Ross County Board of Elections then called the Fayette County election board to verify that the person was registered to vote.

The Fayette County Board of Elections confirmed that the person was registered to vote. The Ross County Board of Elections then asked the Fayette County Board of Elections if the person had already voted, and when records were checked, it was revealed that the person had, in fact, voted in Fayette County on Election Day.

Upon learning that the person had voted in Fayette County, the Ross County provisional ballot was not counted in the election.

The Ross County Board of Elections turned the information over to the Ross County Prosecutor’s Office, which asked the Ross County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter for potential voter fraud.

The person was questioned by the Ross County Sheriff’s Office and reportedly said a provisional ballot in Ross County was cast, but upon being told the vote would be counted later, drove to the precinct in Bloomingburg where the person had lived previously and cast a ballot so that the vote would “count.”

According to Ross County detective John Winfield, a second person was also investigated in the matter for voting in the wrong precinct in Ross County. That person had no connection with Fayette County, said Winfield.

After reviewing the case file, Ross County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Schmidt sent a memorandum in March to the Ross County Sheriff’s Office. Schmidt wrote to say that he concurred with the detective’s assessment that the two people had not intended to commit false registration or illegal voting under the Ohio Revised Code.

“In my opinion they were either careless or just plain ignorant,” wrote Schmidt in the memorandum. “As such, I will not be presenting either case to the grand jury to pursue felony indictments, and am closing my file on the matter.”

In other election news, the Fayette County Board of Elections met Thursday, May 18 to certify the results of the 2017 May primary election.

The board added 13 provisional ballots and said 12 of them counted. Four more absentees were added that had been post-marked the day before the election.

According to the election results, 19.25 percent of registered voters in Fayette County turned out and voted in the primary.

Election results are available on the board’s website at https://www.electionsonthe.net/oh/fayette/elecres.htm

The board said there will be an August special election for the Madison Plains School District only. Those voters who live in Fayette County — about 42 voters — will be going to Madison County to vote on the issue. Anyone registered in that area will be receiving a letter from the board of elections to notify them that they are eligible to vote, according to Beth Ann Snyder, director at the Fayette County Board of Elections.

The next Fayette County Board of Elections meeting is scheduled for June 14.

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By Ashley Bunton

abunton@civitasmedia.com

Ashley may be contacted by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton

Ashley may be contacted by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton