To the editor:
As we approach the election, I would like to raise an issue which is not, thank goodness, coal related, China related or even Big Bird related. I, and I think most members of the community, are beyond fatigue relative to the deluge of TV-based political ads. However, the issue I want to discuss is important as it involves the integrity of the election process.
When I voted in 2008, in 2010 and in last spring's primary, I was surprised by the number of automobiles in the polling place parking lot with non-Ohio plates. Since voting was the only activity occurring at that place, it is reasonable to assume those in the lot were there to vote.
According to an official at the motor vehicle license office, those claiming Ohio residence have 10 days to register their vehicles in this state and pay the appropriate fees. Failure to do this is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $99, according to Steubenville Municipal Court. Since residence in Ohio is required to vote, it is reasonable to assume that any vehicle owner who votes here must have an Ohio license. It is possible that all the cars I saw were only transporting real Ohio residents to the polls, and the owners were not voting. However, there is one simple way to determine this. I suggest that police monitor the lots around polling places and investigate if those automobile owners coming from the polls to vehicles with non-Ohio plates have, in fact, voted. This is easy to verify, as the name of any voter is recorded and is a public record. If they have voted, this violates the law and they should be punished with a citation and fine.
Besides helping to ensure that our local elections are honest, as has been the supposed concern of some politicians in this state, Pennsylvania and other states, it is possible that the fines which potentially could be collected might help local municipalities fill their depleted coffers. Beyond the potential for monetary benefit, this compliance action is required to ensure that those desiring to make political decisions which impact our communities help financially support the community.
Voter fraud, regardless of the method, challenges the integrity of the democratic process and legitimizes the view of some that they have some God-given right to ignore local law. This election has been, many say, one of the most divisive in our history. Nonetheless, claiming a voting right based on a spurious intention to establish local residency so that one's vote might count more in a swing state than in one's home state, or perhaps, even voting here and in a home state through absentee ballot is never justified, regardless of how strong an individual favors one candidate or another. I think that it is simply a matter of justice that any type of voter fraud be stopped, and believe that asking the police and local elected officials to help do this is within their scope of responsibility.
Michael P. Joyce