This time next week, the polls will be open and people will be casting their ballots.
News Center 7′s John Bedell got an inside look at security measures in place to protect your vote in Ohio.
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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told News Center 7 about what he’s previously called a “crisis in confidence” in Ohio’s elections.
“We’ve seen polling that shows that too many Ohioans don’t trust the integrity of our elections,” LaRose said. “You know, it’s also interesting that, historically this is nothing new. There have been similar concerns following the 2000 election, following the 2004 election.”
News Center 7 asked voters if they’re concerned about election security.
“It is a concern for me,” said Dean Jackson, of West Milton.
“I just want to make sure as the government promises us that our vote really counts,” said Barbara Brower, of Troy.
In Miami County, election workers showed News Center 7 how they test every voting machine before they’re sent to a polling place.
They’re loaded with test ballots to ensure accuracy, then workers upload the trial run results to make sure memory cards work.
They also do the tests publicly to let voters see first-hand how the process works. When they’re done, the test results are wiped from the memory cards and the machines are set for the election.
“We seal them up when we’re finished so that they’re ready to go. Nobody’s going to touch them. We verify before we use it that the seal is the one that we put on when we tested it so that everything is proven to be untouched in between the time it was tested and the time it gets used,” said Laura Bruns, Miami County Board of Elections Director.
All of their work is done in bi-partisan teams to ensure fairness.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office also oversees election security.
The office has created its new Public Integrity Division. It’s a dedicated team that will investigate any complaints of voter fraud or voter suppression here in Ohio, campaign finance violations, and maintaining accurate voter rolls, among other duties.
News Center 7′s John Bedell spoke with Ohio Secretary of State Frank Larose about the new initiative. “With the addition of these professional investigators, we’ll be able to do a much more thorough and efficient job of investigating those reports when we get those,” LaRose said. “And the bottom line is this: voter fraud is rare. Voter suppression is also rare. But both of those are crimes that need to be taken seriously. And so if they occur, we will investigate it and we’ll catch you and you’ll face justice if you try to do either of those things.”
LaRose said the Public Integrity Division can conduct thorough investigations and, if needed, forward case files of evidence to a county prosecutor’s office or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.
The Secretary of State also told WHIO the division’s efforts are about strengthening confidence in Ohio’s proven election system and says his office wants to see more voter participation.
“We want to see more Ohioans go to the polls on Election Day or participate in early and absentee voting because they’re confident that elections are honest. And the bottom line is people participate in elections more often when they believe that they’re honest. And that’s what this is all about, is driving greater participation by increasing the trust that people have in our elections,” LaRose said.
LaRose said he wants to start by hiring two full-time investigators.
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