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LaRose Calls For 'Thoughtful' Approach To Election Law Changes

photo of Frank Larose
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau

As Ohio voters cast their ballot during the May primary, lawmakers are crafting a bill that would make several changes to the state's election laws. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) says he supports what he's seen so far in the proposal for a pending bill.

LaRose says those possible changes from Republican lawmakers would allow online absentee ballot requests, streamline voter registration at the BMV, and eliminate early voting the day before Election Day. 

Republican lawmakers in other states, such as Georgia, have received pushback for passing controversial voting laws which advocates say creates voter suppression.

LaRose says voter suppression and voter fraud are both "exceedingly rare."

LaRose says with recent election law changes in other states, the environment around the issue is tense. But he says people on the political left and right are fueling the flames of the controversy.

"When politicians on the left and the right sort of push the hyperbole button over and over again by claiming widespread fraud or widespread suppression, they're doing so for self-serving reasons," LaRose says. "It motivates human behavior and causes people to show up at their rally or click the donate button or whatever the thing is that they're trying to motivate people to do. But the damaging result of that is it causes the average person to lose trust and faith in the process." 

Voter advocates have voiced concern over proposals for the bill to limit ballot drop boxes to one per county, shortens the time they can be used and shortens the time frame to request absentee ballots.

The bill has not been introduced yet in the Ohio General Assembly.

LaRose made the comments about the pending elections bill while talking about the May 4 primary. LaRose says elections officials around the state are working hard to continue to provide a safe environment for people to vote in-person, by following a their pandemic playbook.

"A very simple checklist. The boards of elections follow that checklist and every one of our polling locations, as well as the early voting sites. And if you feel comfortable going to your grocery store, you should feel comfortable coming to your polling location," LaRose says. 

This year there are primary races and tax issues in 60 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.