Local 12 Investigates: Is voter fraud really a problem?

How pervasive is voter fraud? Local 12's Duane Pohlman investigates. (WKRC)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - For months, claims of a rigged election have permeated the race for president. But how pervasive is voter fraud?

On the stump, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump often claims the election is rigged.

“When the system is rigged, people lose hope," Trump recently said at a campaign event, triggering a counter from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Donald Trump is out there stoking fear," Clinton said.

But what’s the real picture of voter fraud at the polls?

To find out, Local 12 News obtained the Ohio Secretary of State’s own Voter Fraud Reports for the 2012 and 2014 elections.

2012 Voter Fraud report by Christi on Scribd

2014 Voter Fraud Report by Christi on Scribd

According to the reports, voter fraud can and does happen, something Ohio’s Secretary of State readily admits.

"I am the first one to acknowledge that voter fraud exists, but we've built a very good system to catch people and prosecute them and to make sure that even though they try to cast fraudulent votes, that it's not counted," Husted said, in an interview in Columbus.

In the 2012 general election, according to the 2012 Post-General Election report, 625 votes were reported as irregular, meaning they should not have been cast.

Eighty-seven of those irregular votes happened in Hamilton County, where eight were referred for prosecution.

Statewide, the report reveals 115 cases of voter fraud in 2012 were referred for prosecution.

While the numbers of irregular votes and suspected cheating sounds high, they were cast as part of 5.6 million votes across Ohio

In preparation for the upcoming presidential elections, Husted pointed out that his office removed 510 thousand dead people from the state’s voter rolls and purged 1.4 million duplicate registrations, but conceded that some voters still do commit fraud.

In 2014, there were far few fraudulent votes. That year, just 12 cases in Ohio were referred for prosecution.

“There are some that slip through. There's no question about that, but when they do we want people to know that it's a 5th-degree felony and we will pursue you,” Husted said.

So as the campaign rhetoric continues, Husted says a system of cross-checks with other states ensures that each vote is being scrutinized, undermining the claim that the elections are rigged.

"Voter fraud are random acts of individual voters, not systemic problems where somebody's really trying to rig or corrupt the system,” Husted said.

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