Hamilton County Board of Elections

The Big Story

May 17, 2013

The Hamilton County Board of Elections recently had another meeting pertaining to cases of voter fraud.  WVXU's Ann Thompson speaks with Maryanne Zeleznik about those meetings.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

The Hamilton County Board of Elections is referring two people to the prosecutor's office for possible illegal voting, but the bigger question appears to be whether more than three dozen people who each voted a provisional ballot and absentee ballot are in the wrong.

So far, during the months of investigation into alleged voter fraud in the 2012 election, the two Republicans and two Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections have, for the most part, played nice, with partisan bickering down to a minimum.

That could change very quickly Wednesday morning, when the board of elections next meets.

That’s when the board will take up the issue of whether to refer more cases of alleged “voter  anomalies” – that is the polite word they have been using for cases of alleged voter fraud – to the Hamilton County prosecutor.

Three more persons have been indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on charges of illegally voting in the November 2012 election, bringing the number charged with vote fraud up to six so far.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictments Tuesday, saying, if convicted, they face the possibility of up to 18 months in prison.

They were among six cases referred to the prosecutor by the Hamilton County Board of Elections so far in a widespread investigation of vote fraud in last fall’s election.

The three indicted Tuesday are:

Ann Thompson / WVXU

The Madisonville Recreation Center poll worker accused of voting twice, and casting ballots for seven other people in possibly three different elections, was not ready to enter a guilty plea on Wednesday.

Melowese Richardson, when interviewed  by WCPO a few months ago, said she didn't do anything wrong.

On Wednesday, before Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman, her attorney said she wasn't ready to issue a plea.

So, is the election system in Hamilton County rife with fraud, with people voting twice and voting from fictitious locations and even casting ballots for dead people?

Well, yes and no.

Over the past several months, the Hamilton County Board of Elections has investigated dozens of cases of what they have called “voter anomalies.” But not enough to change the results of the election; and apparently not in any organized way.

Republicans and Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections are split over a county prosecutor’s opinion which says dozens of voters who cast two ballots in last year’s election should be referred for potential criminal prosecution – even though the board has already exonerated most of them.

Near the end of a board meeting that last three-and-a-half hours Wednesday, the two Democrats and two Republicans on the board discussed  an opinion from Prosecutor Joe Deters, but decided not to actually vote on whether  approximately 67 cases should be sent to the prosecutor.

A Cincinnati nun is being investigated for illegally casting an absentee ballot for another Sister of Charity who died before last November's election. 

Sister Rose Marie Hewitt, a 78-year-old Sister of Charity, died Oct. 4 - the same day the Hamilton County Board of Elections mailed her absentee ballot and about 60,000 others to persons around the county who had requested them.

Four Democratic members of Cincinnati City Council plan to go to the Hamilton County Board of Elections this afternoon to cast their ballots for President Obama, in an event aimed at encouraging early voting.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and council members Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Laure Quinlivan will be at the board of election at 824 Broadway downtown at 4 p.m. today - only hours after GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney makes an appearance at a machine milling plant in Bond Hill.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections will take a closer look this morning at challenges to nearly 100 voter registrations. The board is increasingly seeing more challenges at a time when it's already busy trying to prepare for the election.

Sycamore Township's Joseph Janus Jr. estimates he's filed more than 100 voter registration challenges since he began doing it. Why?