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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.

Hamilton County Elections Board Investigating Possible Voter Registration Fraud

The Hamilton County Board of Elections has identified a dozen voter registration forms filed by the campaign to legalize marijuana that may be fraudulent.

And, election officials say, they are examining hundreds more filed by The Strategy Network, a company headed by Ian James, who is also running ResponsibleOhio, the campaign for Issue 3, which would legalize marijuana.

Elections Director Sherry Poland said the board will soon issue subpoenas. It will hold a special meeting on Oct. 21 where the board plans to take testimony from people who filled out the form and from The Strategy Network.

According to Poland, the following discrepancies have been uncovered so far:

-      Four voters whose registration forms were turned in by The Strategy Network who were contacted by election officials and said they did not fill out the forms;

-      Two voters who told election officials the information submitted about them by The Strategy Network was incorrect;

-      Two voter registrations that were canceled after the board of elections realized they were convicted felons serving prison terms;

-      And four registration forms that were filed under the names of deceased persons.

Poland said the board also found the names of 11 dead people on petitions circulated by The Strategy Network to place Issue 3 on the ballot. 

Poland said election officials received “thousands” of voter registration forms from The Strategy Network; and that election officials are in the process of examining several hundred that have been flagged for possibly fraudulent.

James told WVXU he, his company, and ResponsibleOhio will cooperate fully with the investigation.

“We have a zero tolerance for impropriety in regards to voter registration or the petition process,” James said. “We have a ‘liars-are-fired’ policy that deals with that as well. So we take a dim view of any impropriety.”

James said that, statewide, his organization has turned in about 150,000 new voter registration cards.

“We will fully comply with any prosecution and help the prosecution prosecute anybody that has perpetrated a crime, because it’s a felony to file a false form,’’ James said.

Poland told WVXU election officials are conferring with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office on how many subpoenas should be issued and to whom.

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