Ohio VIP submits Testimony to Presidential Election Commission

Ohio VIP submits Testimony to Presidential Election Commission
September 18, 2017

On September 12th, The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, met in New Hampshire.   Click here to read about the meeting and testimonies presented.

The Commission also requested public testimony. See Ohio VIP’s submission below.

To: The Presidential Commission on Election Integrity

From: Ohio Voter Integrity Project

Thank you for letting us share our election experiences with the Commission. Ohio Voter Integrity Project is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization based in Hamilton County, Ohio. The election integrity issues described below come from our research and poll working experiences over the past 6 years.

It is our opinion there are two main factors that determine the integrity of our electoral process: the legitimacy of voter registrations and the accuracy and timeliness of state voter rolls. All problems below are symptoms of an electoral system that does not guarantee either of these.

Although states should have the freedom to maintain their own voter rolls, they can no longer operate in a bubble. States need input from other states and the federal government in order to adequately monitor and maintain their voter records.

In an age of electronic data, it is reasonable to assume that states should be able to share information easily but this is not the case. From talking with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, we have learned that electoral data systems are not uniform between the states and with the federal government, which makes comparisons and sharing of information difficult.

Unless we can improve our ability to share voter data, the problems below will continue to exist and undermine the integrity of our elections.

Legitimacy of Voter Registrations

Problem: Lack of Verification of Voter Registration Data prior to entry on the voter rolls.

Paper voter registrations are accepted and entered onto the voter rolls before any verification of information. This leads to fictitious or inaccurate voter records. The integrity of our current registration processes relies totally on the honor and integrity of the registrant. In a world of such high political stakes, more needs to be done to protect our voter rolls.

Examples:

We found this to be true from our successful voter challenges of fictitious registrations. Read about “Mr. Allah” here: http://ohiovoterintegrityproject.org/?s=allah.

As long as all fields are completed on a paper voter registration form, the Boards of Elections (BOEs) are required to enter the “person” onto the voter rolls.

Social security numbers and driver’s license information are verified against the Social Security Administration (SSA) and/or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) after the registration is already entered onto the rolls.

If there is a mismatch of information, the only recourse for the BOEs is to put the registration in confirmation status, which causes the voter to show ID when they vote. In order to remove a fictitious registration from the voter rolls, another voter has to formally challenge the registration or the registration has to be inactive for at least 2 federal election cycles.

False documents including US driver’s licenses are easily obtainable from foreign countries like China. Any person using one of these fake IDs would be able to register and vote because mismatched information with the BMV or SSA does not preclude a person from voting. Here are two sites to obtain fake IDs: http://chfake.com and https://jalopnik.com/china-is-making-near-perfect-fake-american-drivers-lice-1638226879.

Solutions:

There should be a separate status for all registrations that have been submitted but have not yet been verified. No registration should be entered onto the voter rolls unless a required form of identification (SS#, state ID or drivers license (DL) #) can be verified. BOEs should make every attempt to communicate with registrants to correct errors, which will help with the verification and acceptance of voter registrations. If the information cannot be verified (i.e. a fake ID, fictitious people) then the registration is rejected.

In 2017 Ohio implemented online voter registration. The online voter registration will only be accepted if there is a complete match on all fields with records of the BMV and/or SSA.   This authentication procedure is similar to the verification of a credit card for online purchases. Ohio has built in safeguards into the system to prevent hacking. All online registrations are batched and reviewed prior to being put on the voter rolls. Contact Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for more information.

Problem: Legally present non-citizens on the voter rolls

Legally present non-citizens can register and vote in the US because they can obtain DLs, State IDs and SS#s. This is all the information they need to complete a voter registration form. They must also check a box saying they are a citizen of the US but there is no way for the BOE to verify if they are really a citizen.

Examples:

There is no difference in the appearance of DLs, State IDs and SS ID cards or associated ID numbers between those issued to citizens versus non-citizens. An Ohio driver’s license issued to a legally present British citizen was shown to us and looked identical in every way to a US citizen’s Ohio DL.

This British person could easily have registered to vote with his social security number and voted at the polls with this drivers license. The polls workers would not have known that he was ineligible to vote. The BOE would not have any knowledge that he was a non-citizen because citizenship data tied to his SS# is held by Homeland Security and is not available to the states.

In Portage County, Ohio a non-citizen had been voting for the past 20 years. They indicated on their registration form that they not a citizen but the BOE entered them on the voter rolls anyway. They were discovered when our Secretary of State began crosschecking driver’s license data with the BMV in 2013.

Immigrations agents who detain and return people back to Mexico have reported that these non-citizens or illegal aliens already had voting cards and also had voted.

Solutions:

Non-citizen’s driver’s licenses should be visibly different than those given to legal US citizens. The words “Legal presence. No lawful status” or something similar should be included on all state DLs and IDs.

Homeland Security should give the states access to citizenship information based on a registrants SS#.

There should be a method to track inconsistencies between at the time a person acquires a legitimate visa/green card and are granted citizenship compared to the date of their voter registration. Flag all registrations where the timeframe is too short to become a US citizen.

Problem: Non-Enforcement of State Residency Requirements and Double Voting

State residency requirements are typically 30 days prior to an election. In states with early voting like Ohio (28 days prior to an election), a person could come to Ohio, register 30 days prior to the election and then vote early, just two days later. Then they could leave and vote in person in another state without being detected.

The law requires that a person declare they are a “permanent” resident of the state when they register, however there is no way for the BOEs to know the intentions of the registrant or monitor their length of stay in the state.

Examples:

Campaign workers from out of state come to Ohio before an election, register and vote in Ohio and then leave as soon as the election is over. The voter could easily be registered in one or more other states.

Transient voters often register at extended stay hotels but BOEs have no way of differentiating hotel addresses from other residential addresses.

Registration drives on college campuses encourage students to register and vote at college even if they are registered in their hometown. While this is lawful, there are no checks in our electoral system to make sure that students do not vote by absentee ballot at home and also vote in-person at college. States do not share voter registration and voting information to detect this situation.

In 2016 we observed a voter registration drive group at the University of Cincinnati trying to persuade a student who had already requested an absentee ballot at home to also register and vote at their college address in Ohio.

Solution:

Share voter data between states.

Maintaining Accurate and Current Voter Rolls

Problem: Lack of sufficient voter roll maintenance procedures and technology.

Voter roll maintenance is essential to keeping the voter rolls current and helps to prevent voter fraud.   Dirty voter rolls (duplicate, fictitious and registrations of deceased persons) allow illegal votes to be cast by absentee ballot.

Examples:

People who move and change their address with the Post Office (NCOA) seldom change their address on their voter registration.

Voters who do not change their address when they move typically return to their old polling location to vote at their old address. If this happens, there is a high probability that they have voted in the wrong state, county or for local issues and candidates.

Voters with incorrect addresses are also not able to receive communications from their BOE notifying them of voting days, hours and changes in precinct location. This creates confusion for voters at the polls.

Voters who move out of state are required to complete a voter registration cancellation form, which is different than a voter registration form and not as easily accessible.

57,000 voters in Virginia are registered in at least three other states.

Relying on the BMV to update voter registrations is problematic because the BMV registers people at the address on their state ID or DL. This could be their residence, business or another location. We challenged several voters who were registered at a business addresses. Their defense was that the BMV changed their voter registration addresses without their knowledge or approval.

The removal of deceased persons from the voter rolls is not timely, especially if the voter dies in a state other than where they reside.

The current legal battle over the states’ ability to use NVRA’s supplemental process to remove inactive voters is creating bloated voter rolls nationwide. In Hamilton County additional precincts were added in 2016 around the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University because graduated students did not cancel their voter registrations. The lawsuit over the Supplemental Process prohibits the Hamilton County BOE from removing inactive registrations.

Solutions:

Promote or require states to join outside databases to help share and verify voter registrations information between states.

Databases like ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center) STEVE (State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events) and the Kansas Crosscheck Project would be more effective if all 50 states participated.

States or county BOEs should be able to receive information from the Social Security Administration about the cessation of benefits to persons due to death.

Change the National Change of Address form to include the option to update their voter registration. This could trigger their new BOE to send them a change of registration form and registration cancellation form if they moved to a different state.

Support the use of the Supplemental Process as a means to purge inactive voter registrations.

 

Thank you again,

Mary Siegel, Denise Mayer and Marlene Kocher

Ohio Voter Integrity Project

 

 

 

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