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Franklin County House Dems Call on Secretary of State to Break Tie

Lawmakers seek guarantee of accurate voting information for county
February 6, 2020
Democrat Newsroom

A group of Columbus-area House Democratic lawmakers today sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose calling on him to break the tie vote at the Franklin County Board of Elections over whether to continue a longstanding public information campaign to provide accurate voting information to Franklin County residents. Republican Board of Elections members oppose providing this information to voters. The Secretary refused to break the tie despite state law requiring it. See the letter below.

Letter from House Democrats:

February 6, 2020

Dear Secretary LaRose:

On January 31, 2020, you declined to break the tie vote between the Franklin County Board of Elections Board members over whether the Board should continue its periodic voter education advertising in our community. Accurate information from a trusted source is key to election security and voter confidence. The General Assembly established a process for resolving these disputes and it requires you to break the tie. It is not optional. We urge you to follow the law and break the tie in favor of providing voters with clear and complete information about how to participate in elections.

Your decision mistakenly claims that the question of whether to engage in a voter education campaign involves internal board operations and exempts you from breaking the tie. But no such exemption exists. Further, this is about needed external communication with the public on an essential component of secure and smoothly run elections – information about how and where and when to vote. With the frequent changes to election processes, the changing of precinct boundaries and voting locations, and new voting machines for the first time in over a decade, accurate information from a trusted source is more important than ever.

Under R.C. 3501.11(G), the Board of elections must “[p]rovide for the issuance of all notices, advertisements, and publications concerning elections.” Under R.C. 3501.11(X), the secretary of state “shall summarily decide the question” in the case of a tie vote by the board. This partisan roadblock by the Republican board members started in 2018 after years of bipartisan agreement about something as basic as telling voters how, where and when to vote. It now continues into this presidential election year when even more people will be voting for the first time. You now have the opportunity and duty to help secure the integrity and security of the vote in Franklin County.

An important job like providing correct information to voters must not be outsourced to volunteer groups with limited budgets. Those groups have their own missions and are not there to provide free labor to the county and state whenever election officials choose not to do their jobs. We should work in partnership with them, not push the workload onto them. Additionally, if we allow such board disputes to stand in the way of basic service to voters, a dangerous precedent will be set. We urge you to reconsider your decision, break the tie vote, and protect access to and integrity of the vote in Franklin County.

Sincerely,

Rep. Kristin Boggs

Rep. Rich Brown

Rep. Erica Crawley

Rep. David Leland

Rep. Mary Lightbody

Rep. Beth Liston

Rep. Allison Russo