LIMA — As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.
While that familiar axiom of presidential politics failed to hold true in 2020 — when Donald Trump captured the Ohio vote but lost the presidential election by more than 7 million votes nationwide — the manner in which the Buckeye State carries out its elections nonetheless is a model that other states are currently studying.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s chief elections officer, was the guest speaker Friday at the monthly luncheon of the Allen County Republican Party. He told the party faithful that while 2020 was “the hardest year we have ever had for running elections” due primarily to a nationwide health pandemic, hard work and preparation at the state level and by each of Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections resulted in election results citizens could trust.
“It is safe and it is accurate,” LaRose said. “The process is trustworthy. In Ohio there were 6 million ballots cast and through a bipartisan effort we got the job done and we did it fairly.”
LaRose said running a successful election did not happen by accident.
“We knew there would be unprecedented challenges (due to COVID-19) and we were prepared. We assembled a Ready For November task force that met monthly and we even brought in experts to help us,” the secretary said. “For instance we talked to Cedar Point. Who knows more about managing long lines than they do? And it paid off. When the world was watching, Ohio was ready.”
To that end, officials in Pennsylvania were so impressed with how smoothly Ohio’s election was conducted that LaRose was asked to testify to that state’s legislature last week “because they know Ohio does it right.”
While the secretary’s talk focused primarily on election successes, he also warned his Republican friends to stay abreast of an effort underway in the U.S. Congress which he termed a “massive takeover of elections” nationwide.
House Resolution 1, the so-called For The People Act, is being ushered through Congress by Democrats. The bill seeks to expand voting rights and amend campaign finance laws to make balloting more standardized in all 50 states. It has been approved on a party-line vote in the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.
LaRose said the bill is really about “leftist dreams and lies” and not about expanded voting rights.
“This is really dangerous and we need to fight this,” the secretary told his fellow Republicans. “If we can’t kill it in the Senate we will have to challenge it in court.”
LaRose was elected as Secretary of State in November of 2018 and said he plans to seek re-election in 2022.
Allen County GOP Chairman Keith Cheney told faithful it is important to return LaRose to office because he holds a seat on the state reapportionment panel that will draw new congressional district lines based on the 2020 census.