On Wednesday, Ohio’s Republican elections chief announced a new public integrity unit in response to what he called Americans’ “crisis of confidence” in the electoral process, though he acknowledged the state’s reputation for secure voting.
The unit, taking effect next week, will consolidate and highlight the Ohio secretary of state’s investigative work and eventually have one or more dedicated investigator, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a statement. Those investigators won’t start until after the General Election, however.
He referenced a growing national trend “that indicates a crisis of confidence in the electoral process.”
LaRose initially said the 2020 election was secure and accurate, but as last spring’s primary neared, he began to voice his concerns.
LaRose claimed there were problems in other states and touted his office’s work to combat voter fraud. Trump endorsed LaRose, a longtime supporter.
LaRose said his new division will help his office more efficiently and thoroughly do work it already does, such as voting system certification and investigation of election law violations, including a team dedicated at looking into rare cases of voter fraud or suppression and campaign finance violations, said LaRose, who is seeking a second term in November.
“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,” LaRose said in a statement.
He also referred to Ohio’s “strong national reputation for secure, accurate and accessible elections.”
LaRose’s announcement follows a decision in Florida in which lawmakers and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis created a police force dedicated to pursuing voter fraud and other election crimes.
Democrats called LaRose’s news a waste of taxpayer dollars aimed at bolstering his political aspirations. LaRose’s name is often mentioned as a possible 2024 U.S. Senate candidate.
LaRose identified just a single case of possible illegal voting earlier this year, party spokesman Matt Keyes said, making the new office “a taxpayer-funded solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Chelsea Clark, LaRose’s Democratic opponent, questioned the timing of the announcement. She also noted LaRose’s efforts to keep his other opponent, independent candidate Terpeshore Maras, off the ballot.
Maras is a conservative podcaster, who the Ohio Supreme Court ruled eligible to run for Ohio secretary of state this fall.
In August, LaRose’s office had upheld a judge’s decision that a number of Maras’ petition signatures were invalid and invalidated her candidacy — a move overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Reached Wednesday, Maras said she would comment on LaRose’s announcement later in the day.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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