Frank LaRose will be sworn-in Saturday as Ohio's next Secretary of State. The job has a number of responsibilities, but the one getting the most attention in recent years has been the secretary’s role in Ohio elections.
In a conversation with WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia, LaRose talked about his new position. One of the things he’s going to be focused on is the conversation surrounding voter fraud and voter suppression.
“There tends to be this heated rhetoric – both from the right and from the left – that is really problematic. You hear, on the right, oftentimes this insistence that there’s systemic and widespread voter fraud and we need to do things to prevent that. That’s not true. There’s not widespread, systemic voter fraud. But at the same time, you hear on the left that there’s widespread voter suppression. And that’s equally not true.
“Both of those occur; they occur rarely, and they’re both very serious. We can tolerate no suppression and we can tolerate no fraud. Reasonable people should be able to agree that neither one of those is ever acceptable.”
Across the aisle
LaRose says his track record over the past eight years in the State Senate shows he is able to work well across the aisle – although he rejects the idea of the aisle since “in that room – in the state legislature – we’re all Ohioans.”
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s "use-it-or-lose-it" voting law, under which an inactive voter has six years to either vote in an election or update their information before the secretary of state’s office moves to clear them from the rolls.
LaRose says the term “purge” is as politically charged as the heated rhetoric surrounding voter fraud and oppression.
He adds that while the Secretary’s duty is to maintain accurate voter rolls, that duty can involve adding convenient ways for people to update their voter registration. Many of his ideas use technology, such as the National Change of Address database, or the Pew Trust’s ERIC system, a multi-state data-matching tool that aims to improve the accuracy of state voter registration systems.