Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has broken a tie vote on the Hamilton County Board of Elections, sending 39 more cases of persons alleged to have voted twice in the 2012 election to the county prosecutor for possible criminal prosecution.
"These cases should be investigated,'' Husted told WVXU. "It does not necessarily mean people will be indicted and prosecuted. But the elections system does not have the capability to investigate all of these; and the county prosecutor does."
On May 15, the two Republicans and the two Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections split on the question of whether to refer the cases to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who had issued an opinion saying that his office should investigate all cases of "voter anomalies."
The Republicans on the board wanted to send the cases to the prosecutor. The Democrats did not, saying the cases had already been investigated by the board and that the board should not put the cloud of a criminal investigation over those persons' heads.
Tie votes on boards of elections go to the Ohio Secretary of State to break the tie; and Husted, a Republican, sided with the Republicans on the Hamilton County board.
Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke - who also chairs the board of elections - called the decision "a travesty."
"This has now become a witch hunt, aimed at scaring the hell out of voters,'' Burke said.
In most of the cases, the person involved cast an early absentee ballot by mail and then showed up on election day and cast a provisional ballot. In all cases, the provisional ballot ended up being thrown out and only one vote was counted.
Burke said poll workers were required to issue the voters a provisional ballot and those ballots were not counted.
"Now we are supposed to subject almost 40 people to felony investigation - people who did nothing wrong,'' Burke said. "It's just an absolute travesty."
Husted told WVXU the prosecutor "is best equipped to try to determine the intent of the voter, whether he or she deliberately tried to vote twice."