COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- 17 non-citizens cast a ballot in Ohio during the 2012 election. Secretary of State Jon Husted says another 274 non-citizens were registered, but didn't vote.
"The people in question are not in Ohio illegally, they are documented immigrants who are non-citizens. However, as such they are not eligible to vote," Husted said.
Until now, Husted says they had no way to prove citizenship when people registered to vote. Now they are able to share the voter database with other state agencies and they helps catch irregularities.
One of the 17 cases being referred to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine involves a person that has been voting since 1993.
Husted is pushing for online voter registration and says it would help prevent this from happening again because a potential voter would have to enter their drivers license information. That would catch any non-citizens who attempt to register.
"We could check a voters eligibility before they are ever registered," he said, pointing out that 100,000 people updated their existing voter registration online before last year's election.
There were 5.6 million votes cast in the 2012 general election.
"It exists. It's rare. The violators will be held accountable and we are building a better elections system to make sure something like this never happens again," said Husted.
Franklin County had the most registered non-citizens with 68. Cuyahoga County had 57 and 28 were from Hamilton County, 24 in Summit County, 17 in Montgomery County, and 15 in Lucas County. Other counties with registered non-citizens were: Ashtabula, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Delaware, Fairfield, Fulton, Holmes, Huron, Lake, Licking, Lorain, Mahoning, Marion, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Trumbull, Warren, and Wood Counties.
Of the 17 illegal votes cast, 5 were in Franklin County, 4 were in Cuyahoga, 3 in Hamilton, 2 in Montgomery, and 1 in Butler, Noble, and Union Counties.
"There's 17 problems out of 5.6 million votes cast. 17 out of 5.6, it's like a needle in a haystack and we're still able to find those problems," said Brian Rothenberg with ProgressOhio, a liberal group in Columbus.
He's worried that some lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse will over-react to the news.
"What I just fear is our legislators rushing to judgment over 17 problems out of 5.6 million cast and creating barriers for hundreds of thousands of voters who are legally voting," he said.
Rothenberg says it's clear that the systems currently in place are working and were able to catch the issues. He does support online voter registration and anything else that makes it easier for people to vote.
"They actually make it harder to vote in this state than it is to buy a gun, in some ways," he said.