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Ohio Secretary of State creates Public Integrity Unit after touting integrity of 2020 election

Republican has made varying claims about state's election integrity
Sec. of State Frank LaRose shares what happens behind the scenes to conduct the May 3 primary
Posted at 11:29 AM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 11:35:36-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced the creation of the state's first-ever Public Integrity Unit.

According to LaRose, the new department will consolidate the office's investigative functions, including campaign finance reporting, voting system certification, voter registration integrity, the investigation of election law violations, data retention & transparency, and cybersecurity protocols.

LaRose said the office was created to have safe and fair elections in Ohio.

“This is a responsibility I take very seriously because this quite simply is about defending democracy,” said LaRose. “Our elections are being scrutinized like never before, and any lack of absolute confidence in the accuracy and honesty of those elections weakens the very foundation of our democracy. It’s the duty of my office to earn and maintain that trust.”

According to the Secretary of State's website, voter fraud is rare in Ohio, with the 2020 election having a 99.98% accuracy rate.

RELATED: Ohio’s top elections official rejects fraud claims

Last year, LaRose sent 117 noncitizens to Attorney General Dave Yost's office for election fraud. Of the 117, 104 only registered to vote while 13 voted. According to the Ohio Capital Journal, those 13 ballots made up .00016% of those cast in the 2020 primary and general elections.

RELATED: Those who voted, registered illegally could face prosecution

In previous years, LaRose, a Republican, has touted his bipartisanship, including bucking claims of rampant voter fraud made without evidence by then-President Trump in 2018.

However, this year, in addition to being at the center of a bitter partisan fight over Ohio's redistricting process, LaRose has made comments calling into question the integrity of the political party he opposes when it comes to elections.

“Ohio’s become THE leader for election integrity,” he tweeted in April. “But that can all become undone if the Democrats win.”

Shortly after a rally hosted by President Donald Trump in Delaware earlier this year, LaRose added, “President Trump knows that — and he’s given me his full support. Join the team and chip in to help our campaign.”

In spite of Trump's continued false claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election that continue to this day, LaRose this year continued to tout Trump as an authority on election fraud. LaRose’s office didn’t respond to repeated questions from the Ohio Capital Journal asking if LaRose believes Trump’s claim that he was the victim of a stolen election — or if LaRose believes that Trump legitimately lost.

LaRose’s office did respond to a question asking how Democrats might jeopardize Ohio’s election security.

“At the state level, in 2020 Democrats sued (to) force the state to accept e-mailed absentee ballot requests, risking insecure attachments to be sent to county boards’ computer systems across the state,” LaRose spokesman Rob Nichols said in an email, adding that Democrats also wanted “(t)o do away with signature matching requirements on absentee ballots, so any ballot would be accepted, even if the signatures didn’t match.”

RELATED: LaRose says Dems might wreck election integrity, touts Trump, who’s suspected of election fraud