COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine didn’t live at the address where he was registered to vote in the past two elections, including one in which his father was elected governor, a citizen has alleged in an election board complaint.
The complaint, which has gained little traction with local election officials, was lodged this month by Toledo resident Nathaniel Livingston. It asks the Hamilton County Elections Board to investigate the 51-year-old DeWine, the son of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.
Livingston said he based the complaint on information in an Aug. 23 divorce filing by DeWine’s wife of 10 years, Rhonda Dayton DeWine. She told the court that DeWine “abruptly moved out” of their Hyde Park home in February 2018, which was before last year’s gubernatorial election, and that the couple continues to live “separate and apart.”
According to the secretary of state’s office, falsifying a voter registration record is a fifth-degree felony. A violation can mean six to 12 months in prison.
In court documents, his wife accuses Pat DeWine of adultery and says her husband “cut me off financially” — along with her two children, whom he’d parented for a decade — after they separated.
Rhonda DeWine says she is without cable and internet services, rarely eats out and has “no money for gas, food, clothing, or to pay expenses for my children.”
She declined to comment on the filing, which states that DeWine continues to pay the mortgage and taxes on the house, as well as the gas and electric bills.
Hamilton County Elections Director Sherry Poland said Ohioans may list an address on their registrations even if they don’t live there, so long as they intend to return. It’s a situation faced by many college students, as well as married couples who are separated or divorcing, she said.
“That seems to be the situation Mr. Livingston is describing,” Poland said. She said, without further information, that it’s unlikely the board will pursue the complaint further.
Spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said that DeWine had always intended to return to that house, but that he now plans to change the address on his registration to the condo where he’s been staying in Franklin County. Justices are elected statewide and so face no residency requirement.
“In each of the elections he has voted in, Justice DeWine has voted from the address where he intended to return and live,” Stubenrauch said. “As divorce proceedings have now been filed, Justice DeWine doesn’t believe he’ll be able to return to his home, and he plans to update his voting address before the registration deadline.”
Poland said DeWine did not request an absentee ballot be sent to the Franklin County address, as Livingston had alleged. He voted early and in person in Hamilton County.