COLUMBUS – Today, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose called on the United States Congress to vote against HR 1, a bill that would effectively take over control of how states conduct elections. HR 1 imposes significant changes that ignore both the United States Constitution and the unique election systems across the 50 states in an effort to standardize how states vote.
“Ohio’s November 2020 election was the most successful on record, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer want to wipe it all away with a massive power-grab,” said LaRose. “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.”
Article I, Section 4 of the 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 “whenever extraordinary circumstances might render that interposition necessary to its safety”. Moreso, state-level elections and the election of the president have remained outside of the purview of congress.
However, the question of whether it’s even within the power of congress to take over how states run elections isn’t even the most important question. Instead, the better question is “should they?” In the 59 presidential elections since 1789, each has resulted in the successful election of a President. Voting laws have evolved across the 50 states, providing more and more access, security, and accuracy. Over time, each of those same 50 states have created their own unique election systems. From who administers the elections, to how votes are cast, to how a vote is protected – each system was born of federalism.
Like human beings, no voting system is perfect. Improvements and changes happen as the people, working through their respective state legislatures, see fit. In Ohio, a state whose elections have long been under the national spotlight, we’ve developed a system which has ensured voters have confidence in the outcome of elections. As a result, voter turnout is at an all-time high, voter fraud and voter suppression are exceedingly rare, and our efforts to strengthen the security of our elections have become a national model. Even as we faced enormous challenges, last year we in Ohio ran the most successful election in our state's history. It’s no surprise that other states are now coming to us to learn our best election practices so they can mirror them back home.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. One of the great motivations of federalism is the state role as a laboratory for democracy, with each state innovating to become a better version of itself, and sharing those lessons with other states. That experiment has allowed our nation to become the best in the world. We need to keep that experiment going and encourage Ohio’s congressional delegation to vote against HR 1.
Secretary LaRose will soon be sending a letter to congressional leadership and Ohio’s congressional delegation requesting a no vote on HR 1.