GAMBIER — Why would someone register to vote at an address where they have never lived, then never vote?
Linda Taylor of Canada Road in Monroe Township outside Gambier, recently discovered that a woman she knows in Kuwait registered to vote in September 2008, using Taylor’s address even though she never lived there.
If it was an attempt to vote fraudulently, why never vote?
She did use the address as a mailing address — with Taylor’s permission — when she finished graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 and returned to the emirate.
Taylor said she originally met Nowall Hassan in the 1980s when Hassan was a teenager. Taylor and her ex-husband were in Kuwait, where he was representing Cooper Industries, and they got to know her parents.
When Hassan got married, the couple spent part of a week with the Taylors at Gambier. Taylor remembers that it was during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Hassan came to the U.S. to attend graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh and returned to Kuwait in 2007 after completing her studies. Because she was concerned about some mail not being forwarded overseas, Taylor let Hassan use her address as a mailing address.
“She was never a resident of Ohio,” Taylor said, and certainly never in Knox County.
Hassan holds dual citizenship because her mother is a native of South Dakota. She met Hassan’s father in school there and eventually moved to Kuwait, Taylor said.
Taylor received a notice from the board of elections telling Hassan she should sign and return the form or she would be on the list for removal from the voting rolls. Taylor didn’t think much of it and pitched it.
Then, as this election approached, Taylor was bombarded with election fliers, all addressed to Hassan. Taylor went to the board of elections and found out that Hassan was listed as a registered voter at her address and informed Kim Horn, board of elections director, that Hassan is not, and had not been, a resident there.
She received a copy of the form Hassan filed in September 2008 to register as a voter and requesting ballots be sent to her. She was stunned when told such requests are usually accepted “at face value.” She took the form to County Prosecutor John Thatcher’s office. A copy of the form was made and she was told it would be investigated but, she said, she didn’t get the feeling it was a priority.
Horn said that although ballots were sent in 2008, they were never returned, and no ballots have been requested since, including this year.
She said she was able to get in touch with Hassan by email, but Hassan’s answers to her questions “were not complete” and Horn said she is waiting for a further reply. That will determine what the board of elections will decide to do.
She explained that since Hassan did not vote in the 2008 election or in any subsequent election she was sent the card asking to confirm her residence and if she did not vote in this federal election cycle would be due for removal from the voter lists in 2015. She could also file a change of address, if needed.
Horn said Hassan is not registered to vote at any other location in Ohio, but she doesn’t know if she is registered in Pennsylvania.
Thatcher said he would like Horn to get a clear statement from Hassan that she wants her name removed from the voter lists, and he would like more information on her claim of residence.
He said he also told Horn to instruct precinct workers to watch out for anyone claiming to be Hassan and trying to vote Election Day.
Although Hassan’s name was due to be removed from the voter lists in 2015, Thatcher said, he has no reason to doubt Taylor’s assertion that she was never a resident here, he thinks it would be best to get it off the books sooner.
“We need to protect the integrity of the voting process,” Thatcher said, adding that this could be used as an opportunity to say what residency means. The question often comes up with regards to where college students vote: At home or at school.
“She (Taylor) has a right to be upset about her address being used for a false registration,” the prosecutor said.
Thatcher also said if people start getting election mail addressed to someone who does not live at that address, they should notify the board of elections. Campaigns get voter lists from the board, so such mailings could indicate a false registration. That would constitute filing false information.
Once his questions are answered, Thatcher said he still has to decide what to do. Does he really want to spend taxpayer money to extradite someone from Kuwait for filing false information, which is the lowest level (fifth degree) of felony, when they never voted? Or is clearing the lists of a non-qualified voter sufficient?
In a letter to Taylor and to the board of elections, Thatcher said it costs about $3,000 to extradite a criminal from another state, and probably three times that to extradite from Kuwait.
Contact Chuck MartinEmail
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.