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Minority Leader Russo Criticizes Secretary LaRose's Reckless Spending on August Special Election

Total cost of August special election to taxpayers exceeds $18M
November 1, 2023
C. Allison Russo News

COLUMBUS – Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) announced today that an additional $2M has been requested by the Office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose to be disbursed to County Boards of Election to cover the cost of administering the recent August special election. The General Assembly had previously appropriated $16M, which was intended to cover the entire cost of the August special election, but the Secretary of State’s Office notified state lawmakers at the last minute that an additional appropriation would be required.      

“While I am glad that our County Boards of Election will be receiving these additional dollars to fully cover the cost of administering the August special election, I am disappointed—but not surprised—to see the total cost to taxpayers increasing yet again,” said Leader Russo. “Secretary LaRose was warned repeatedly by our local County Boards of Election that the cost of conducting a last-minute statewide special election in August would exceed his office’s initial estimate of $10M.” 

“Judging by this latest funding increase, one of two things must be true: either Secretary LaRose intentionally low-balled the initial cost estimate in an attempt to pull one over on Ohio taxpayers to rig an unnecessary and illegal special election, or Secretary LaRose is incapable of performing one of the Secretary of State’s most basic functions—properly preparing for and administering Ohio elections,” said Leader Russo.

To date, the Secretary of State’s office has requested $18,014,212 in funds from the General Revenue Fund to pay for the administration of the August 8 special election. The August special election was scheduled by the Republican-controlled legislature just five months after voting to eliminate August special elections, citing excessive costs and low voter turnout. Lawmakers responsible for the reversal openly stated that the last-minute special election was needed to preempt the Reproductive Rights Amendment appearing on the ballot this November.