Friday, December 14th, 2012

Possible voter fraud incident in Auglaize County

By Amy Kronenberger
WAPAKONETA - Auglaize County officials are looking into possible voter fraud after discovering one resident may have voted twice in the Nov. 6 election.
Board of elections director Carolyn Campbell this morning said staff members go from precinct to precinct after each election to count every ballot and verify every signature. During that process after the general election, they discovered one person may have voted in two different precincts.
Because of the ongoing investigation, Campbell could not release the name of the voter or the precincts. The voter will face felony charges if officials determine there is enough evidence for fraud, she said.
"Sometimes we look into something suspicious but end up saying 'oh, that's what happened,' " Campbell said. "But this one from all angles looked like - without speaking to the actual voter - that this person did vote twice."
After discovering the double vote, Campbell brought the issue to the board, who agreed to turn the issue over to the sheriff's department and the prosecuting attorney.
"This is the first time I'm aware of - and I've been here six years - that we had to say 'yeah, that person voted twice,' " Campbell said.
The county occasionally has received a provisional ballot from someone who already voted, "but those envelopes never get opened," she said.
Someone who is determined to cheat the system could find many ways to vote twice, Campbell said. The voter could have two IDs or have a name very similar to someone living in another precinct. A voter also could vote in his or her precinct and then cast a provisional ballot at another precinct instead of mailing it.
"But a lot of times, the poll worker is just not paying close enough attention and they (the voter) get lucky," she said.
If the investigation finds the fraud was a result of poll worker negligence, the poll worker likely would not be allowed to work the polls the following year.
"Our poll workers for the most part are really dedicated and try really hard," Campbell said. "They only work twice a year, so we have to cut them some slack. If a poll worker does mess up - like they miss a signature or forget to do something - they are just devastated."
Campbell said the discovery should let residents know that elections boards do check for fraud.
"It's good to know that we really do check these things because there are so many rumors," she said. "You do hear about voter fraud so it's good the people are aware that we check and double check these things."
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