The Delaware County Board of Elections has directed staff to undertake a preliminary investigation of dozens of possibility fraudulent registrations related to an effort to place a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in November.
More than 200 new voters registrations were recently filed with the board of elections by The Strategy Network, which has been collecting signatures for ResponsibleOhio’s proposed ballot initiative that would legalize the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
Karla Herron, deputy director of the board of elections, said several of those registrations have raised suspicions.
Some registrations, Herron said, appear to be in the handwriting of two or three individuals. On others, the signatures do not match with those the board of elections has on file. In some cases, addresses do not match.
“We do have registrations that we are going to put before the board (today),” she said. “Our board should be the ones to make a decision on whether or not they think anything is suspicious.”
However, not all of the registrations provided by The Strategy Network are in question.
“Some look like there’s no reason for us to suspect anything,” said Herron.
The results of the preliminary investigation will be presented to the board on July 7, at which time the bipartisan body will determine the next steps to take, based on the recommendations in the report.
Delaware County is not the only place where The Strategy Group is suspected of submitting fraudulent voter registrations. Last week, Secretary of State Jon Husted sent out an advisory to all 88 county boards of elections, urging officials to closely review the registrations turned in by the group.
“As the state’s chief elections officer, I have a duty to work with our local boards of elections to ensure fairness at the ballot box and a primary component of that responsibility is to maintain clean voter rolls and establish safeguards against fraud,” Husted said in a press release. “ResponsibleOhio’s suspicious voter registration efforts seem to be simply another step in a growing trend of irresponsible behavior.”
ResponsibleOhio’s proposed constitutional amendment would limit growing to 10 regulated sites, including a Delaware County location, controlled by the wealthy interests behind the ballot measure. A seven-member “Marijuana Control Commission” would create and enforce regulations on the industry. Each level of the supply chain – from grower to retailer – would face a 15 percent tax, and most of that revenue would be distributed to local governments.
ResponsibleOhio needs to collect 305,591 valid signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. However, state lawmakers are considering a ballot initiative of their own, one that would ban monopolies in Ohio and that could effectively trump the pro-marijuana group’s ballot measure.