An Ohio woman was sentenced this week to six months in the Columbiana County Jail after she pled guilty to committing voter registration fraud.
Rebecca Hammonds, 34, pled guilty to 14 counts of falsely registering people to vote and forging signatures on voter registration forms, according to Salem News. Hammonds was originally charged with 35 counts but took a plea deal in January.
The fraud occurred in September and October 2015, when Hammond worked as a paid canvasser for the liberal activist group Ohio Organizing Collaborative, or OOC. The county elections board began to find errors in voter registration applications that were filed by OOC, including five submitted for registration under dead people. The sheriff's office was contacted after the errors were discovered.
The sheriff's office then handed the case over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, part of the Ohio Attorney General's Office, for prosecution. Brian Deckert, an associate assistant attorney general, recommended that Hammonds serve a one-year prison sentence.
Public defender Jennifer Gorby said her client Hammonds had "a lack of judgment on her part" and felt pressured to file false voter registration applications in order to keep her job.
Deckert said there was not "a situation where she had a quota system … I think it just may have come down to human laziness." Hammonds was paid hourly and not by the amount of applications she filed.
While Deckert recommended a one-year prison sentence, he accepted Hammond's request for probation. Judge C. Ashley Pike did not agree that probation was a just punishment, however, and told Hammonds that her crime required some sort of incarceration.
"I just can’t overlook this. You attempted to violate the integrity of our election process in the county," Pike said. "If 180 days [in the county jail] doesn't teach you a lesson, nothing will."