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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose weighs in on election reform fights in Washington and Columbus

Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 19:07:59-04

MEDINA, Ohio — That Republicans in Washington blocked a sweeping voting rights bill this week was a good thing, said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who like many, saw it as a Washington overreach.

“The bill would have dictated the kind of adhesive your absentee ballot envelope must use,” LaRose offered as an example. “So to tell the Board of Elections that you have to use the peel-off sticky kind of envelope and not the licky kind of envelope," he said, "I think it's arrogance from people in D.C. to think that they need to tell the Cuyahoga or Summit or Portage County Board of Elections what kind of envelopes."

LaRose continued, “Ohio is already very good at it. In fact, we're kind of the example that the rest of the country wants to follow,” he told News 5. “Ohio made that very clear last November when we had our most successful election in history. Most successful as far as turnout, most successful as far as number of pollworkers, the lowest number of ballots rejected for voter mistakes that we've ever seen, the lowest number of provisional ballots. I mean, all these different metrics you look at—Ohio did a heck of a job running our 2020 election.”

Beyond that, LaRose said Ohio actually already offers greater access then the Democrat supported bill in Congress was calling for.

"Ohio for years now, close to two decades has had a whole month of early voting a whole month of absentee voting when anybody that wants to can vote by mail in Ohio we have online voter registration, we have a really balanced process for verifying voter identification. I know in some states they've had all kinds of controversies about this, but Ohio has a good system where you show a photo ID when you come to vote but if you don't have one or if you've lost yours or whatever else you can also show an alternative. So Ohio's been thoughtful about this over the years. Again we don't need someone in Washington tell us how to run elections."

Last year, LaRose went to the legislature with a pandemic wish list of reforms he'd like to see them approve. Some are being acted on, like allowing voters to requests absentee ballots on line, modernizing voter registration and moving the deadline to request an absentee ballot up so as to give the board of elections more time to handle requests that need to be mailed out. Other things, like additional drop boxes, the legislature is actually going the other way on by limiting dropbox use to only BOE's and only for 10 days before an election.

"As I told you in the beginning there are things in the bill that I like and things that I think should be looked at, I've made that clear to the sponsors that that's one of those things that I think should be revisited,” he said. “Making those available for only 10 days before the election, I don't think that makes sense, I think that adds confusion and there's no real problem solved there either."

LaRose also defending the decision to eliminate early voting the day before the election which had been from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. saying it's needed to give the Boards of Elections time to prepare for Election Day.

“This mad rush that they have to go through on Monday before Election Day to get early voting closed at 2 p.m., and then get everything set up for Election Day voting, we can get rid of that Monday and still keep the same 216 hours of early voting we have by taking those six hours out of Monday and putting them into weekends and evenings and actually more convenient times for voters,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some have tried to politicize that issue unfairly and say well they're reducing early voting, of course not. I'm not interested in reducing early voting, Ohio's a national leader in this, but I am interested in addressing a big concern that the elections officials have and at the same time actually making it more convenient for voters.”