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On Voter Registration Day, LaRose Emphasizes Election Security Measures

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (right) flanked by Franklin County Board of Elections Director Edward Leonard.
Nick Evans
Secretary of State Frank LaRose (right) flanked by Franklin County Board of Elections Director Edward Leonard.

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose offered a peek behind the curtain of elections officials’ efforts to conduct a smooth and secure election. 

One Republican, One Democrat, each with their own key, are needed to enter any secure section of the Franklin County Board of Elections. That model plays out in other areas, like the warehouse where they store voting machines or in the car when poll workers transport voting data back to the board after an election.

LaRose, a Republican, says this trust-but-verify approach is part of ensuring a transparent process.

“In a time when, in Washington, it feels like Republicans and Democrats can’t agree that today’s Tuesday, at your county board of elections and at 87 other county boards of elections you’ve got Republicans and Democrats who come to work every morning, unlock the door, turn on the lights and do this really complex job of running elections," he says.

Touring the facility, LaRose and county elections officials highlight numerous safeguards they’ve taken to ensure security: None of the voting machines connect to the internet, voting data is transported on single-use USB drives, every vote has a paper trail and elections officials audit their results.

“Voter confidence is easy to lose and hard to gain and hard to maintain,” LaRose says. “And so I think that it’s important that we be truthful about problems when they occur and point out problems when they occur so they can be fixed.”

LaRose’s office has been dogged by complaints of voters being incorrectly removedfrom the rolls, as the state conducts its latest round of "purges" to maintain the registration database. But he contends by making that process public, about 14,000 people have updated their registrations—that’s about double the amount from previous administrations.

“The deeper we’ve dug on the voter registration process, candidly, the more problems we’ve found in the way that it’s done,” LaRose says. “This would never have been known really if we hadn’t done this so transparently, and this is why transparency matters.”

Before noon on Tuesday, his office noted more than 7,000 people had registered to vote.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.