Like their counterparts throughout the country, Republican lawmakers in Ohio have been trying to ram through new laws that they claim will ensure more “safety and security” at the ballot box. They have good reason to be concerned about voter fraud in their state. One of their own, a Republican township trustee, has admitted to forging his dead father’s signature on an absentee ballot and then voting again as himself.
Edward Snodgrass, a Porter Township GOP official, was busted after a Delaware County election worker questioned the signature on his father’s ballot. A subsequent investigation revealed the ballot had been mailed to Snodgrass’s father on Oct. 6 – the day after the 78-year-old retired businessman died.
Snodgrass told NBC News that he made “an honest error” while struggling to take care of his dying father. He said he had power of attorney for several years and because his dad had broken his right arm he had already been “signing for him.” He said his dad, who suffered from advanced Parkinson’s disease, had requested the absentee ballot.
“It was there with a pile of other paperwork,” Snodgrass said. “I was sleep-deprived and not thinking clearly. But I’m not going to run away from it.” The 57-year-old Snodgrass wouldn’t reveal who he and his father voted for in the election. “I was simply trying to execute a dying man’s wishes,” he said.
The veteran Ohio prosecutor who caught the case was taken aback. “I’ve been doing this since the 1980s, and this is the first one I’ve seen like this,” said Morrow County Assistant Prosecutor David Homer, who is also a special prosecutor for Delaware County.
Snodgrass is expected to plead guilty July 9 to a reduced charge of falsification and receive a sentence of three days in jail and a $500 fine. He initially was charged with illegal voting, a fourth-degree felony, and could have faced a prison sentence of six or more months, along with a $5,000 fine had he not agreed to a deal.
Christopher Devine, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton, said cases like Snodgrass’s are extremely rare.
“In fact, what is typical about this crime is that it is so at odds with the typical claims of voter fraud that we hear from Donald Trump and other (usually Republican) politicians,” he said in an email to NBC News. “The fact is, very few people commit voter fraud and when they do it usually looks like this: one person casting an additional vote through a strange series of circumstances that gave him an opportunity he shouldn’t have taken. And he got caught.”