EDITOR'S NOTE: This opinion/analysis piece was submitted by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to Knox Pages. It was originally published on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 by the Washington Examiner.
In last year’s election, nearly 6 million Ohioans cast a ballot shattering our state’s all-time record for voter turn-out.
But that wasn’t all — 74% of registered voters cast a ballot, breaking another record. Early and absentee voting increased by 75% compared to 2016, and 94% of all absentee ballots were returned — all smashing previous state records.
All of this in the middle of a crippling global pandemic with a toxic political environment, pervasive election disinformation, widespread civil unrest and uncertainty like we’ve never seen. In Ohio’s 218 years of statehood, it has never been more challenging to run an election than it was last year.
And yet, by every quantifiable metric, Ohio’s November 2020 election was the most successful on record.
Credit for this remarkable feat goes beyond the hardworking bipartisan election officials and patriotic poll workers, or even my efforts to adapt Ohio to 2020’s challenges. It speaks to the processes put in place throughout the years that have made Ohio elections more accessible, more secure, and more accurate than ever before.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer want to wipe it all away with a massive power-grab called HR 1. By assigning the number 1 to their sweeping Washington takeover of elections, they’ve sent a strong signal that this is their highest priority. Don’t fall for their crisis opportunism.
Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that “(t)he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof,” but that “the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.” In Federalist Paper No. 59, Alexander Hamilton contended that such regulation was only necessary in “extraordinary circumstances.”
I’m not sure about you, but setting records for turnout and accessibility certainly doesn’t appear to qualify as an “extraordinary circumstance.”
The thing is — Ohio wasn’t alone in 2020. According to Pew Research, voter turnout nationwide in the 2020 election was the highest it’s been since 1980, and with more data to be analyzed, possibly even longer. This doesn’t make a strong case for a federal takeover.
Even worse, the legislation imposes significant and costly requirements in an effort to force every state to change their voting system into the form chosen by Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer. Remember, each state election system is unique — shaped by time and trusted by their respective voters. Forcing uniform standards, procedures, and expectations into state election systems — some far different than others and not built for those requirements, is like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It won’t work. Instituting massive change will bring chaos, and that chaos would bring with it the worst-case scenario — a loss of confidence by the people in the results of those elections.
Join me in telling Congress to do the right thing: Keep Washington, D.C., out of state elections administration and vote against HR 1.
• Frank LaRose is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, Ohio state senator, and currently serves as the 51st Ohio secretary of state.