There are those who operate under the theory that if something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality.
The more cynical among us believe it doesn’t matter if the something said is true or not, so long as people believe it is. Indeed, everything from political to corporate advertising campaigns are built on this hope and practice.
Such is the case with voter fraud. To hear some tell it, Ohio (and the rest of the nation) is overwhelmed with it. Never mind the statistics confirming its rarity. Someone said “voter fraud” somewhere, it was repeated, and now it simply must be so.
Ohio election observers will recall when, in 2012, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted conducted a comprehensive study using data from all of Ohio’s 88 county boards of election in response to voter fraud concerns. In 2013, Husted’s office released its findings. The report demonstrated the so-called runaway boulder of illegal voting was more like a grain of sand—.002397 percent of 5.6 million Ohioans voted illegally.
Out of more than 5.6 million Ohioans voting in 2012, there were 135 possible voter fraud cases referred for investigation, according to an Ohio Secretary of State report.
One would think such a report, by none other than the chief elections official in the state, would put an end to further groundless proclamations about Ohio’s vulnerable elections system.
It did not. Secretary Husted, ignoring his office’s report, was back in statewide and national news last week decrying the latest non-issue. This time, it involves President Obama’s late-2014 executive order making it, by design, easier for some non-citizens to obtain driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers.
Secretary Husted now warns this development will result in voter fraud in Ohio as some non-citizens obtain documents others use to register to vote. However, almost 200,000 non-citizens in Ohio already have driver’s licenses. According to the aforementioned report, a grand total of 17 non-citizens, all of whom are legally in the United States, incorrectly and/or illegally voted in Ohio in 2012.
In other words, it wasn’t a significant problem in 2012 and there’s zero indication it will be in the future.
What are the real problems with Ohio’s election system?
The last gubernatorial election had a near record-low turnout. Also, Ohioans still cast far too many provisional ballots. And don’t forget that many voters were deprived of important early voting opportunities.
Secretary Husted’s time is better spent finding ways to make voters’ experiences better, such as online voter registration or addressing the state’s provisional ballot system, instead of amplifying concerns his own office already discredited.