EL woman pleads guilty to 13 counts of voter fraud

LISBON –An East Liverpool woman faces possible prison time after pleading guilty to voter registration charges Friday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Rebecca A. Hammonds, 34, of Fourth Street, pleaded guilty to 13 of the 32 charges for falsely registering someone to vote and one of the three charges for forging someone’s signature on a voter registration form. The other charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal reached with Brian Deckert, an attorney with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which handled the case.

Hammonds is scheduled to be sentenced March 6 following completion of a presentence investigation, and Deckert is recommending a one-year prison sentence but he will not oppose probation, which is being requested by her attorney, public defender Jennifer Gorby. The charges against her carry a maximum possible sentence of one year imprisonment on each charge.

Hammonds was a paid canvasser for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC), a liberal activist group that was involved in voter registration efforts in the southern part of the county during the months leading up to the November 2015 general election. In October of that year, the county elections board director contacted the sheriff’s office after his staff found discrepancies with 29 voter registration applications received from OOC, including five that were submitted in the name of people who were dead.

The sheriff’s office conducted the initial investigation and, after determining fraudulent behavior likely occurred, turned the probe over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is part of the attorney general’s office.

OOC, which cooperated with investigators, fired Hammonds and placed her supervisor, Amanda Kiger, on administrative leave. Kiger later resigned, and no one else has been charged.

Deckert said it is policy not to comment on cases until they are officially concluded, which will occur once Hammonds is sentenced. He did say the plea deal shows that Hammond’s fraudulent behavior began on Sept. 12, 2015, and continued through Oct. 2. During this period she was accused of falsely completing voter registration forms in the names of 32 people and forging the signatures of people on three other forms.

Among the other irregularities uncovered during the course of the investigation was the case of the 11-year-old boy who had been registered to vote. The mother learned of this after receiving a letter from the elections board advising her of her son’s status as a newly minted voter. The birthday and driver’s licenses number listed on the registration belonged to the boy’s father, who lives in West Virginia.