Chris Oaks spoke with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Q: President Donald Trump has insisted multiple times that enough fraudulent votes may have been cast to swing the results of the popular vote in the November election. What’s your reaction to that charge?
A: We examine very closely the results of every election, particularly any claim of voter fraud or voter suppression. That process is currently underway for the most recent election, but in the two previous presidential elections in which I’ve been secretary of state, we found 667 cases of voter irregularity, of which 149 were referred to law enforcement for further investigation or prosecution. In addition, we found 22 cases of people who voted in Ohio and another state. And, we found 436 noncitizens who were registered, including 44 who actually voted. So, yes, voter fraud does exist, but it’s not widespread or systemic in the manner which has been described.
Q: The argument, of course, is that any illegal votes being cast is unacceptable. Wouldn’t you agree?
A: Of course. And it starts by dealing in facts about the scope of the problem. I want to help President Trump put policies in place that will improve the integrity of our election system. And that’s not a new concern on my part. Two years ago, I testified before Congress and asked them to give us access to the Homeland Security Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, which would help us identify anyone not a citizen on the voter rolls in Ohio or any other state.
Q: Part of the confusion over the prevalence of this problem may have to do with a misunderstanding of the distinction between irregularities on the voter registration rolls and actual voter fraud. What’s the difference?
A: I think this is probably where the conversation has gone awry. There are probably three to five million people nationwide who are illegally or improperly on the rolls, but by no means do all of them vote or even attempt to vote.
Since I’ve become secretary of state, we’ve removed 545,000 deceased voters and 1.4 million duplicate registrations. Not every state does this with the veracity we do.
But, even so, a large amount of that inaccurate information in state databases can be attributed to simple oversights or overdue housecleaning. If you’ve ever moved from one town to another, updating your voter registration information is probably not the first thing on your to-do list. Just because you may be on the state’s master list twice certainly doesn’t mean you have any intention of voting multiple times.
Q: Even though they don’t necessarily mean that illegal votes are being cast, these irregularities do open up the possibility of that happening. So how do you go about correcting those errors?
A: One of the things I did when I took office was to partner with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which allows us to share information like name, address, date of birth and driver’s license number. So when you reregister your vehicle, we can cross-reference and find out if there is a duplicate or conflicting record in our database.
Additionally, if someone doesn’t vote in two consecutive elections, we send notification that your registration is pending removal and follow up if we do not receive a response. We check death records weekly, both in the state and nationwide.
And, perhaps most importantly, we have strong deterrents to committing voter fraud. We pursue those cases vigorously, and we send people to prison. We make sure it’s not worth the attempt.
Q: The president has called for a thorough investigation at the federal level to ascertain the amount of voter fraud happening in our elections. Would you support that?
A: I would welcome it, frankly. As I’ve said, it is something we do every day as an ongoing standard practice. I’m confident that it will not be difficult for Ohio to comply with anything that may be asked of us.
But, and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough, while we should always continue to work to improve our election system, we don’t need to perpetuate the myth that voter fraud is in the millions. It exists, but only in isolated cases.
“Good Mornings!” with Chris Oaks airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on WFIN, 1330 kHz. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 419-422-4545.