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Nun suspected of voting for dead Sister

A Cincinnati nun is being investigated for illegally casting an absentee ballot for another Sister of Charity who died before last November's election. 

Sister Rose Marie Hewitt, a 78-year-old Sister of Charity, died Oct. 4 - the same day the Hamilton County Board of Elections mailed her absentee ballot and about 60,000 others to persons around the county who had requested them.

The board of elections received a completed absentee ballot on Oct. 11, with what purported to be Hewitt's signature. It was dated Oct. 3 - the day before she died and the day before absentee ballots were mailed out.

Officials believe it was sent by another local Sister of Charity who was a friend of Hewitt and lives at the same Delhi Township voting address. WVXU is not naming the nun, because no charges have been filed.

But, in a Tuesday letter to the Hamilton County Board of Elections, county prosecutor Joe Deters said  "sufficient information has been developed with respect to (the Hewitt vote) to determine that there is probably cause to believe that criminal activity has occurred."

"No further investigation by the board of elections should be undertaken with respect to allegations related to Ms. Hewitt,'' Deters wrote to the board.

Amy Searcy, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said the situation was discovered last week when the board received a list they routinely receive from the Ohio Secretary of State's office of persons who had died. The secretary of state collects the information from the state board of health and distributes it to county election boards so they can purge their rolls of dead voters.

"That's when it was discovered that the sister had mailed in a ballot, which we received after she had died,'' Searcy said.

The situation with Sister Rose Marie Hewitt comes in the middle of a board investigation into about 20 Hamilton County voters who may have illegally voted twice in the November election.

Friday, the board will interview a second group of those voters under oath. The Hewitt situation will not come up in that meeting. The board may soon forward other names to the prosecutor for possible prosecution.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.