Updated (14:37 EDT, April 22) below.
Imagine if you will that in last fall's presidential election -- in a crucial swing state no less -- that the widow of an evangelical pastor voted for her late husband via absentee ballot, committing voter fraud and arguably also violating federal mail offenses in the process. While the story of her prosecution would probably not be headline news, it's hard to imagine a complete or near-total media blackout on the story.
And yet that's exactly what happened in the case of Sister Marguerite Kloos, a Cincinnati nun who pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a Hamilton County, Ohio, court of voter fraud. While the charge carried a maximum 18-month prison term, Kloos was instead remanded to a "diversion program" and if she maintains good behavior, her record will be wiped clean, Cincinnati.com's Kimball Perry reported.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State's website, election law violators can be permanently disenfranchised, but since Kloos's record may well be wiped clean because of the judge's sentence, it seems quite likely that Kloos could be able to vote again in 2016, if not the 2014 midterms.
In addition to Kloos, two other voter fraud cases are pending in Hamilton County:
Melowese Richardson, 58, of Madisonville, is in court Wednesday charged with eight counts of illegal voting. She was a poll worker accused of voting twice in the November presidential election and for relatives in various elections. Her charges charges carry up to 12 years in prison.
Russell Glassop, 75, of Symmes Township, is in court May 14, charged with one count of illegal voting. He also is seeking diversion. He is accused of voting for his deceased wife who requested an absentee ballot before she died.
A search of the Nexis database for Kloos failed to turn up any hits on ABC, CBS, or NBC as well as the New York Times. The April 17 Washington Post did carry an AP news brief on Wednesday on page A3:
Nun guilty of illegal voting: A southwest Ohio nun who cast a ballot on behalf of a nun who died before last year's presidential election pleaded guilty in Cincinnati on Tuesday, Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Bill Anderson said. Defense attorney Ralph Kohnen had earlier said that Sister Marguerite Kloos, 55, tried to fulfill her friend's wishes by forging her signature on an absentee ballot.
Update: Responding to an inquiry via email, Cincinnati.com's Kimball Perry replied, "Prosecutors tell me if she gets in no more trouble and successfully completes diversion, she is eligible to re-register to vote and would be allowed."