Friday, February 8, 2013
In all, Hamilton County officials reviewed 80 suspicious cases stemming from the November election, narrowing them down to 19 for a more complete investigation.
A total of 421,997 votes were cast in Hamilton County during the Nov. 6 election.
President Obama got 219,927 votes in the county, compared to 193,326 for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Richardson told a local television station this month that she voted twice for Obama last November. She cast an absentee ballot and then voted at the polls as well.
"Yes, I voted twice," Richardson told WCPO-TV. "I, after registering thousands of people, certainly wanted my vote to count, so I voted. I voted at the polls."
Authorities also are investigating if she voted in the names of four other people, too, for a total of six votes in the 2012 presidential election.
Richardson is one of 19 people suspected of illegal voting by the Hamilton County Board of Elections in the last election.
Richardson claimed she had submitted an absentee ballot, but was afraid her vote would not count so she also voted in person. She also said she voted in the name of her granddaughter and yet another person.
"There was absolutely no intent on my part to commit any voter fraud," she insisted.
Richardson's granddaughter, India Richardson, confirmed to Fox News that her grandmother voted for her, by submitting an absentee ballot in her name. India told Fox News that she is not angry, and gave her permission to cast her absentee ballot.
"It wasn't a big deal," she said.
But election authorities say voting more than once, or in someone else's name, is a big deal because it is illegal and threatens the credibility of the nation's election system.
"It appears she not only attempted to vote more than once, but was actually successful at it and having those additional votes counted," Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, who is in charge of the state's elections, told Fox News.
"She appears to have used her position as a poll worker to cover her tracks. That would be someone who is an official in the elections process, using that position to commit a fraud. That is especially troubling to me, as the chief elections officer of the state, because it is my responsibility to make sure the system runs effectively, that it has integrity. When I find issues like this, I know that it undermines voter confidence in our elections, and we must pursue it."
Three other absentee ballots in the names of different people were submitted to the Board of Elections from Richardson's address on Nov. 1. Officials say the handwriting on those ballots is similar and that they were all received together, on the same day that Richardson's absentee ballot arrived at the office. Richardson maintains that some of the other voters live at her house.
In written reports detailing the 19 cases, Board of Elections investigators described their findings. In one instance, an investigator called a suspected double voter and was hung up on.
"I explained that she voted twice and she told me not to bother her and get off her phone and she hung up," the investigator wrote.
Another voter admitted to double voting, but did not think it was an issue.
"The voter said yes she 'voted early' and then voted again, then she asked 'what's the problem?'" according to the report.
Yet another voter was at a loss for explaining why he voted more than once.
"Voter said he remembered both times. He doesn't know why he voted twice," the report said.
The documents show that another voter said he had received a phone call before Election Day telling him his absentee ballot would not count. When investigators questioned him about voting two times, the voter replied "'as usual, you guys are wrong.' ... he was curious about the investigation and asked 'Now what will you do' and 'are you taping me now?"
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is holding hearings to further investigate these cases.
As part of a new effort to root out any voter fraud, Secretary of State Husted has ordered all 88 of the state's county Board of Elections to hold public hearings on any credible voter fraud allegations or claims of voter disenfranchisement during the 2012 election. He said any substantiated allegations should be turned over to prosecutors.
Melowese Richardson has been indicted for allegedly voting at least six times. She also is charged with illegal voting in 2008 and 2011.
The 58-year-old veteran Cincinnati poll worker, indicted Monday, faces eight counts of voter fraud. Two others, one of whom is a nun, have been charged separately.
Richardson faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Efforts to contact her and her lawyer have been unsuccessful.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections recently held hearings on cases of possible double voting and voter fraud, part of a statewide review ordered by Secretary of State John Husted. He called on all 88 counties to review complaints of fraud, as well as voter disenfranchisement.
Posted by skoorbekim at 11:11