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Ohio Secretary Of State Candidates Dig Into Lesser Known Voting Issues

(l-r) Rep. Kathleen Clyde, Prof. Dave Cohen and Sen. Frank LaRose during Wednesday night's panel. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
Rep. Kathleen Clyde, Prof. Dave Cohen and Sen. Frank LaRose discuss issues in the Ohio secretary of state race in Beachwood.

At a panel on voting issues in Beachwood Wednesday night, the two major party candidates for secretary of state discussed several election issues that are rarely debated. 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, and State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, agreed without hesitation that there needs to be a higher threshold for getting constitutional amendments on the ballot.

“Think about what’s in our Ohio constitution – the outline for our form of government,” said LaRose, and listed constitutional principles like checks and balances, the right to vote and freedom of the press. Then he listed a few recent additions. “And casinos. And marijuana, or at least attempted, and all these other things that really don’t belong in a constitution,” said LaRose. 

Clyde agreed and added that ballot items like legalizing casinos or regulating drug pricing are the result of huge spending by people whose identities are often hidden.

Differing Positions on Voting Machines, Election Process

One area of disagreement between the two candidates was whether to require that all county boards of election use the same voting machine.

Clyde supports a standard system statewide.

“I do believe that Ohio should move to a paper ballot – voter-marked, voter-verified paper ballot system,” said Clyde. 

Currently, the state requires a paper trail for all votes, but each county chooses its own machines.

LaRose supports the existing system.

Clyde also argued in favor of a system of mail-in voting to replace Election Day polling sites.

Three states already use this system for all elections. Clyde said it would likely increase turnout and save the state money.

“Potentially not needing to recruit tens of thousands of poll workers,” said Clyde. “It’s hard to recruit all those folks to work for a long day for barely any pay.” 

Clyde said the state would need to convince voters to have faith in a new system.

LaRose disagreed with the proposal and said the current choices – Election Day voting, early voting and mail-in voting – should be kept.

“People enjoy coming out and seeing their neighbors at the local community center and whatever else and participating in that,” said LaRose. “Things like weekend voting that are now part of our culture in Ohio, with early voting, are a great thing. And faith groups come out together to vote on a Sunday afternoon. That sort of in-person voting is a good thing.” 

The two candidates agreed on most other issues, including increased campaign finance disclosures and the importance of redistricting reform.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.