Elections board questions "double-voters"

Feb 15, 2013

The Hamilton County Board of Elections heard sworn testimony Friday afternoon from five of 18 voters who cast two ballots in the November election as part of an investigation that could lead to criminal charges.

Almost all of the voters being investigated cast absentee ballots and then showed up at their polling places on election day and were given provisional ballots by poll workers - which they were required to do.

Four of the five voters who testified under oath Friday said they went to their polling places on election day because they were either unsure if they had mailed in absentee ballots or were unsure it had arrived at the board of elections.

Seven people who were subpoenaed to testify Friday did not show up.

Tim Burke, the chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said those people’s cases would be decided on the basis of the investigation done by board of election staff members.

The rest of the subpoenaed voters, along with some material witnesses, are to testify in a session on Friday, Feb. 22.

One of those is a woman who was a poll worker at the Madisonville Recreation Center polling place  and is alleged to have cast an absentee ballot and a provisional ballot on election day.

After all the testimony is heard, the board members will decide whether or not to refer any of the cases to the Hamilton County prosecutor for possible prosecution on charges of voter fraud, a fourth-degree felony.

A Springfield Township woman who was subpoenaed told the board members that she was not sure her absentee ballot was delivered to the board “because somebody at the post office told my mother that it needed two stamps to get there.”

So she went to her Springfield Township polling place on election day and was given a provisional ballot.

“You know, just for the record, that the post office forwards any absentee ballot envelope to the board of elections and the board picks up the postage,’’ said Caleb Faux, a Democratic member of the board.

A Silverton woman gave the board unclear answers when asked if she remembered sending in an absentee ballot.

“All I know is that at the polling place they told me I needed to vote and gave me these forms,’’ she said.

An elderly woman who lives in a home for seniors was there with her niece, who explained to the board that her aunt had mental and physical problems. The elderly woman said she mailed in an absentee ballot, but said that on election day, a woman in the building was going around telling people to go vote at the polling place where she lived; and she did.

In all of the cases heard Friday, the voters’ absentee ballots were counted and the provisional ballots were not.

The board had originally subpoenaed 19 voters, but dropped one man at the last minute because board staffers determined he had done nothing wrong.