Secretary of State

Candidate pushed for funding for new voting machines

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Frank LaRose got a close-up look at the Wood County voting machines that will be replaced next year with funding he pushed through the Ohio Senate. Wood County’s 12-year-old touchscreen systems are faring better than voting machines in some counties, where spare parts have been scrounged up from Tractor Supply stores or paper clip stashes. “This is an investment for a long time with the state, so we have reliable, safe machines,” State Senator LaRose, the Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, said Thursday as he stopped in Bowling Green. Senate Bill 135, sponsored by LaRose, sets aside $114.5 million for new voting machines in Ohio. Wood County’s share is $1.3 million. The funding for the voting machines comes as the current systems get closer and closer to being obsolete. Wood County’s machines were built in 2006, said Terry Burton, director of the county board of elections.. “In the grand scheme of things, when you’re talking about technology,” the systems are almost antiques. Though Burton credits the local board of elections staff with babying the systems to keep them functioning well. “Every election, we see a little bit more wear and tear,” Burton said. “It’s time.” Wood County currently has 575 functional voting machines. Senate Bill 135 is intended to replace all the voting machines in the state – as long as county boards of election are satisfied with the “Chevrolets” and not the “Cadillacs” of voting machines, LaRose said. However, in Wood County, Burton said the $1.3 million from the state will be about $3 million shy of the total expected cost of $4.2 million. “It’s not going to cover it all,” Burton said. “I’ve looked at it all along as a helper. I’m not going to complain about getting $1.3 million.” Wood County Board of Elections doesn’t want the “Cadillac” of voting systems, but it doesn’t want the “Chevrolet” either, Burton said. “We’re looking for the SUV,” he said. “We’re looking for a system that’s hardy.” The total state funding is being divided up among counties based on the number of registered voters and the size of the counties, LaRose said. Wood County Board of Elections has decided to stick with touchscreen systems, not the optical scans. The touchscreens will be larger and will move more like mobile technology, Burton said. The Wood County Commissioners have been prepared for…


Candidate committed to protecting voter rights in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A veteran in Kathleen Clyde’s district was denied the right to vote after his name was purged from the voting rolls. For Clyde, defending the rights of all Ohio voters is the utmost concern as she runs for Secretary of State. Clyde, a four-term Democratic state representative from Kent, stopped by Bowling Green State University and Stone’s Throw pub on Wednesday to pitch her campaign. “I am very passionate about the idea of bringing fair, secure and accessible elections to our state,” she said. “There have been a lot of partisan attacks on the right to vote,” Clyde said. “We’ve got to see those partisan attacks end.” The secretary of state seat is wide open since the current holder, Jon Husted, is running for lieutenant governor on Republican Mike DeWine’s ticket for governor. Clyde is running against Republican Frank LaRose, a state senator from Hudson; Libertarian Dustin Nanna; and write-in candidate Michael Bradley. Clyde pointed at gerrymandering and voter purging efforts in Ohio as proof of problems. “We need everyone’s voice to be heard in a democracy,” she said. “I have been an opponent of the secretary of state’s efforts to purge thousands of people from the rolls,” Clyde said. Though she sees the rationale of removing people from the rolls who are deceased or who have moved, Clyde doesn’t support the current system that has resulted in many citizens being wrongly removed from voting rolls. One such voter was Larry Harmon, a resident of Clyde’s district. Harmon, a veteran, showed up at the polls  in 2015 and was told he couldn’t vote. “This veteran was turned away at the polls,” she said. A little bit closer to Wood County, the mayor of Oak Harbor, Joe Helle, was denied his right to vote after he returned from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He found out when he went to vote after coming home,” Clyde said. “It needs to stop.” Ohio election officials send notices to anyone who fails to cast a ballot during a two-year period. People who do not respond and don’t vote over the next four years, including in two more federal elections, are dropped from the list of registered voters. Initial court rulings on the voter purge process favored the citizens. A federal appeals court ruled against the state, concluding that roughly 7,500 Ohio voters — in a…