By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Thousands of voters in Ohio and New York are also registered to vote in Florida and have cast multiple ballots, a new study charges.
“Pew Research’s finding that 2.75 million Americans are registered to vote in more than one state continues to ring true. Unfortunately, we keep seeing more people possibly voting illegally,” said Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, a nonpartisan election-integrity organization.
“Our initial belief that we had uncovered only the tip of the iceberg continues to be reinforced,” Engelbrecht said during a telephone interview from her Houston office.
True the Vote cross-referenced voter registration lists between Ohio and Florida to identify voters with matching full names, birth dates, addresses and voting histories.
Citing state records, Engelbrecht said her group found more than 19,000 Ohio voters claiming Florida mailing addresses. More than 6,390 people held voter registrations in both states.
True The Vote reportedly found 534 individuals casting ballots in federal elections in both Ohio and Florida. Engelbrecht said 34 cases were turned over to federal and state authorities for investigation on Tuesday.
“To his credit, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has indicated he is taking steps to address the situation with respect to voter roll maintenance,” Engelbrecht said.
“However, these findings are particularly troubling given Ohio’s wholesale approach to dispensing absentee ballots for all this year. This combination of poor voter roll maintenance, emerging evidence of interstate fraud and Ohio’s new policy of absentee voting for all could create a perfect storm.
“The last thing we want is a repeat of the 2000 election — this time by mail,” she said.
Ohio is among the states reporting record requests for absentee ballots. Both Ohio and Florida are “no fault” states that do not require voters to provide a reason for needing to cast absentee ballots.
True The Vote alleged potentially greater voter fraud between New York and Florida.
Citing a new sample of less than 1 percent of upstate New York voters, TTV found 48,630 voters claiming Florida mailing addresses. Of that sample, more than 19,000 are registered to vote in both states.
TTV on Tuesday notified federal and state officials of 32 cases of possible interstate fraud between New York and Florida. And the group’s spokesman, Logan Churchwell, said that’s just for starters.
“We have a whole project going on the New York-Florida connection, and we haven’t even gotten into New York City yet,” he said.
Chris Cate, spokesman for the Florida Department of State, confirmed that officials received TTV’s findings this week.
“Florida takes seriously its commitment to ensuring the accuracy of its voter rolls and the integrity of the election system and we will carefully review the information and any future information provided that suggests a violation of the state’s elections laws,” Cate told the Orlando Sentinel.
Reached by Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau, Cate declined to elaborate.
John Conklin, spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections, said it is his agency’s policy not to comment on complaints “unless and until there is a final determination confirmed by the board.”
“Whatever the board’s direction is at that time the enforcement counsel will follow,” Conklin said.
Officials from Ohio and the U.S. Department of Justice not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
“It’s important for voters to remember that no candidate or cause is worth a felony conviction,” Engelbrecht said. “While some will no doubt commit the same fraud this year, we can find them in a matter of months.”
Churchwell said the multiple votes occurred during the 2008 and 2010 general elections.
“At this point in the research process, it is very difficult to spot patterns,” he said. “One thing I have seen, however, is a considerable number (of multiple registrants) born in the 1980s.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida previously pooh-poohed claims of voter fraud in the Sunshine State but changed his tune this week amid reports of suspected registration shenanigans by a firm hired by the Republican Party of Florida.
Dutch called on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a task force to investigation the allegations.
Strategic Allied Consulting of Glen Allen, Va., was fired by the RPOF amid news accounts of questionable voter registrations filed in Palm Beach County.
The Republican parties in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia also fired SAC as those states neared their voter-registration deadlines.
“We have no indication of any specific groups leading to dual registrations,” Churchwell said of TTV’s findings. “The records also do not show party affiliation.”
Though Virginia was not part of the TTV study, officials in Richmond say the state has taken steps to block interstate voting scams.
“In 2011, the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation to allow (the State Board of Elections) to work with other states to identify duplicate multistate registrations, maintain the integrity of the rolls and safeguard against any irregularities,” SBE deputy director Justin Riemer told Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau.
Riemer said the legislation authorized Virginia’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center, which enables states to share voter data.
“If SBE received any information of voting in multiple jurisdictions based on evidence received from analysis with other state voter rolls, we will provide the information to law enforcement,” Riemer said.
“Virginia law also places certain restrictions on absentee voting by individuals who have registered by mail and who have not previously voted in Virginia. With some exceptions, the law requires these individuals to vote absentee in-person or on Election Day.
“This could be viewed as another safeguard to deter would-be double-voters,” he said.
Contact Ward at [email protected] or (571) 319-9824.
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