LaRose says elections are secure in Ohio

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose spoke to business and community leaders about security measures for the Nov. 8 midterm election.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose met with local business representatives and community leaders Tuesday at the Ohio Valley Mall community room as he seeks re-election.

LaRose, the incumbent Republican, faces a challenge from Democrat Chelsea Clark, who made a campaign stop in Steubenville on Tuesday. LaRose arrived in St. Clairsville with the message that Ohio voters can be confident in the security of their elections.

He said there are layers of protections to ensure the security of the process without sacrificing convenience.

“I reject this idea that you have to choose one or the other,” he said. “You don’t have to choose either security or convenience. In Ohio we have both.”

He said there are close to 200 hours of early voting opportunities for the midterms, with more than 218 hours for presidential elections.

“We’ve got weekend hours and evening hours. In fact, this weekend the boards of elections are open on Saturday and Sunday for early voting.”

Remaining early, in-person voting hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.

LaRose said Ohioans must provide identification when requesting and mailing an absentee ballot. Ohioans may also track their ballots at voteohio.gov.

LaRose said security is a top priority, with the first measure being the required involvement of members of both major political parties at every stage.

“In Ohio, elections are a completely bipartisan enterprise,” he said. “If you go to the county board of elections, half of them are Democrats, half of them are Republicans, all of them are patriots.”

LaRose said Ohio is also scrupulous in maintaining the accuracy of its voter rolls, including removing the names of deceased voters, updating the rolls when people marry, move or change their name, and ensuring only citizens can register to vote.

He also reminded the gathering that voting machines are not connected to the internet and cannot be hacked remotely. He said every election is audited, with a 99.98% rate of accuracy of electronic results compared to paper ballots in his four years in office.

Weeks ago, LaRose also created a Public Integrity Division to investigate election issues. The division is staffed with investigators with law enforcement backgrounds.

Voter fraud occurs, “but it occurs in the dozens, maybe hundreds statewide, but not in the thousands or tens of thousands,” LaRose said.

LaRose also criticized efforts by the national government to federalize elections.

“It’s not a glitch, it’s a feature of democracy that each state does things a little different,” he said, adding that other states are looking to Ohio’s example. “The federal government has tried four times in the last year alone to federalize elections … to really take over mandating how elections are run. Thankfully, we’ve been able to defeat it.”

Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton inquired about the sometimes complicated language of some ballot issues such as levies. LaRose said this language is decided at the local level. His office checks it for accuracy but may not edit for clarity.

“This is something that has been fought over in a thousand different court cases,” he said, adding that new Americans with English as a second language might find this confusing. “For state issues, we publish the ‘plain language’ arguments for and against,” LaRose said, adding these appear in media such as newspaper advertisements.

“I just wish every state in the union had this election process,” Port Authority Director Larry Merry said.

In other matters, LaRose also spoke about the Business Filing Notification System offered through OhioSoS.gov/IDTheft, a free service allowing business owners to track any filing changes or updates to their business in the case of business identity theft.

“Just like an individual can be the victim of identity theft, so can a business,” he said, adding that his department can also educate businesses about cyber security. “We’ve set what many consider the national standard in our office for cyber security, this is what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is saying. They’re telling other states to follow the Ohio model.”


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