Groups: Ohio immigrants need more training, voter education

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Voting-rights advocates in Ohio have urged both the state's top lawyer and the elections chief to do more to assure that immigrants understand the voting process, after more than 350 apparent non-citizens were referred for investigation last week.

A coalition of 11 groups raised their concerns in a letter to Attorney General Dave Yost and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, both Republicans, on Tuesday.

Groups including the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Ohio arms of the League of Women Voters, ACLU and Common Cause, and CAIR-Columbus said that publicly announcing investigations into potential voter irregularities involving immigrant communities is harmful. They said the probes rarely turn up serious offenses or intentional fraud, but those results are hardly ever shared with the public.

The groups recommended a series of steps to reduce immigrants' confusion and fear around voting. Those included broader educational outreach to non-English speaking communities, additional training for those who interact with immigrants on voting and more robust partnership with nonprofits that do voter education.

They also urged officials to follow up publicly with those falsely targeted in the investigations, so that's not the person's final communication on the matter.

LaRose said last week that, while voter fraud is rare, keeping it in check requires a commitment to enforcing the law.