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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio's Electors Vote For Trump, Cast Unfounded Doubts On Election Results

Updated: 10:14 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020

All 538 members of the Electoral College voted Monday, including Ohio’s 18 electors.

It’s a process described in law and with lots of formality, but little suspense. Ohio's 18 electors were pledged to President Donald Trump, as expected and in line with the state’s popular vote.

So when Ohio campaign adviser Bob Paduchik, chairman of the state’s 55th Electoral College, announced the unanimous vote to the electors and observers in the Ohio Senate chambers – where everyone wore masks and was seated far apart – it was not a shock.

Trump won Ohio by a little more than 8 points. The pandemic and record turnout made this year challenging for elections officials, poll workers and voters, said Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“Working together, we were able to accomplish something that many thought was impossible – the most difficult election of our lifetime. It’s not hyperbole to say the 2020 was perhaps the most difficult election ever conducted in the state of Ohio," LaRose said.

Though Trump got more than 313,000 more votes this year in Ohio than he did in 2016, his statewide total was just under his margin of victory from four years ago, because more than 5.9 million Ohioans cast ballots, the highest turnout in state history.

The election in Ohio was never disputed by Trump, though Ohio is among several states that used machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which have been the subject of baseless claims of vote switching. The claims have been rejected by courts and “debunked by election officials, subject matter experts and third-party fact-checkers,” as Dominion notes on its website.

While there was no question about the Ohio vote among the 18 electors, there were concerns about Monday’s vote in other states. There have been threats of violence in some, and Michigan and Arizona held their Electoral College votes in secure locations because of concerns for the safety of electors.

Allen County Republican Party Chairman Keith Cheney, an elector from Lima said after the vote: "The bottom line is, I’m here as an elector in the state of Ohio. We did our job. We voted for the president of the United States, and I’m proud to sign those certificates today.”

Two Ohio electors selected by the state Republican Party in September weren’t at Monday’s session – Patricia Weber of Akron and Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott.

Lee Ann Johnson, chairwoman of Ohio Women for Trump and the wife of Ohio Trump campaign honorary state co-chair Rep. Bill Johnson, was picked to fill in for Weber.

“I do have questions about it nationwide. There are still cases pending in court, and we just have to see what that outcome will be," Johnson said after the vote.

There have been nearly 60 challenges to the presidential election filed in courts in nine states by the Trump legal team. They’ve lost all but one of them, and some of the cases have been dismissed with prejudice and pointed words from judges.

Elector and Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson also said he’s concerned about what he calls “irregularities.”

All 50 states certified results and declared Joe Biden the winner by Monday evening.

Johnson was asked after the vote in if he accepts that Biden is the president-elect and his answer was a resounding no.

“I don’t. I personally don’t,” Johnson said. “I have great reservations and I think there needs to be a major bipartisan investigation as to what happened.”

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court – including the three justices nominated by Trump – rejected the bid by Texas to toss out the results of the votes in four states Biden won. Of the 196 Republicans in the U.S. House, 126 backed that lawsuit, including five from Ohio: Reps. Jim Jordan, Bill Johnson, Brad Wenstrup, Bob Latta, and Bob Gibbs. 

So far, of Ohio’s 13 Republican members of Congress, only two – Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) – have acknowledged Biden as the president-elect.

And Ohio Sen. Rob Portman had held back on that title, saying Trump had the right to pursue his legal claims but also that there's no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the outcome of the election. But a few hours after the electoral college votes were in, Portman put out a statement that said in part: "…although I supported President Trump, the Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-Elect.”

The Electoral College vote isn’t the final step in the 2020 election. Congress will vote to accept the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.