Fear over voter fraud has become a daily talking point for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the campaign trail with repeated claims that the election is “rigged” against him.
However, Ohio elections officials maintain those claims have no merit.
"I can reassure Donald Trump, I am in charge of elections in Ohio and they're not going to be rigged,” said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who oversees elections in the state.
Husted took to Twitter Wednesday for a town hall with voters, responding to one that safeguards are in place and the state will run a good, clean election.
— Jon Husted (@JonHusted) October 19, 2016
"Our Institutions, like our election system, is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it,” Husted said.
On Monday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
False claims of fraud have spread quickly online. A tweet from someone claiming to be a Columbus postal worker who ripped up absentee ballots for Trump was shared thousands of times. The U.S. Postal Service said its initial investigation showed the tweet did not come from an employee.
In reality, Husted’s office reported just 135 cases of potential voter fraud that were referred to law enforcement
for investigation following the 2012 election, out of 5.6 million total votes.
“It puts doubt and fear in people's minds, and it could affect voter turnout,” Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Pat McDonald said of Trump’s rhetoric. “I think they're reckless statements and potentially dangerous statements. We have procedures and processes in place to make sure that all our polling locations are safe and secure.”
McDonald said a system of checks and balances is in place, starting when voters check in to their precincts on Election Day. Each voter’s identification and signature is compared with his or her voter registration.
He also said poll workers have received added training to report any potential problems, and there is bipartisan oversight.
Hundreds of certified elections observers selected by each party will monitor precincts, however members of the public who are not credentialed will not be able to do so, according to McDonald.
He said bipartisan teams handle the memory sticks that hold election results and are transported by deputies to the Board of Elections, where the information is uploaded to a tabulation software system. He said it is not connected to the Internet to prevent hacking.
“[Voters] can count on it being secured and that the vote will be counted,” McDonald said.