The Accomplishments and Initiatives of the Ohio Secretary of State in 2021
Fresh off the heels of Ohio's most successful election in state history in November of 2020, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose continued to build on that momentum over the course of 2021. With its three accessible, secure and accurate 2021 elections and record-breaking numbers of new business filings, Ohio remains a national leader in both election administration and for its collaboration with aspiring entrepreneurs.
The following year in review highlights the accomplishments Ohio enjoyed over the course of 2021.
OHIO ELECTIONS ARE A MODEL FOR THE NATION
In 2021, three elections were held over the course of the primary, special, and general elections. Across all three, 1,773 local issues were decided by the voters of Ohio. In November, early voting was up by 18 percent when compared to the November 2019 election – once again highlighting Ohioans’ trust in our state’s secure and accessible voting options. Relying upon the important collaborations with different groups and organizations across the state, poll worker recruitment was a vital emphasis of the November election and Ohioans responded. 33,504 Ohioans stepped up to serve their communities in the November election by serving as poll workers.
In March, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was one of just four Secretaries of State to win a “Clearie” award sponsored by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. The award was presented for innovative voter outreach and poll worker recruitment programs that led to Ohio’s most successful election ever in 2020. Previous state records were shattered with 8+ million Ohioans registered and almost 6 million ballots cast producing an all-time high 74 percent statewide voter turnout. Then again in August, Secretary LaRose won an Innovators Award from the National Association of State Election Directors for Ohio’s Precinct Election Official Recruitment Program during the 2020 election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Chuck Schumer have worked tirelessly to sidestep state sovereignty and federalize election administration. They failed in 2021, in no small part thanks to the effort by state leaders like Secretary LaRose who emphasized how states like Ohio shouldn’t be told how to run our successful elections. In June, Secretary LaRose applauded the state legislature’s wise decision to pass HCR 5, a resolution that urges the United States Congress to reject the federal takeover of state and locally-run elections, otherwise known as HR 1. LaRose stated, “Our success in 2020 was only possible because our nation’s founders had the wisdom to entrust elections to those who know the people. Over the years, we’ve built an elections system that has made our state both more secure and accessible. The result? An election with record voter turnout, the highest absentee ballot return rate in history, and a result that Ohioans trust.”
ENSURING ELECTION INTEGRITY
Accurate voter rolls are the backbone of Ohio’s secure elections system. In 2021, in accordance with both federal and state law, Secretary LaRose continued working with Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to identify any registrations which have been abandoned, remove Ohioans from the voter rolls who have passed away, and catch any non-citizens who attempted to participate in the process. Thanks to Ohio’s proven system, Secretary LaRose was able to take action when 117 non-citizens were identified for potential election fraud violations and refer them to the Ohio Attorney General for potential prosecution. Integrity requires accountability, and that is happening in Ohio.
Last year, Secretary LaRose became the first statewide elections official in the nation to implement a Vulnerability Disclosure Policy. The policy establishes procedures for outside researchers to inspect the Secretary of State’s website for vulnerabilities. In 2021, the Secretary exhibited the transparency his office has become known for by releasing its initial results. The issues that were identified were quickly resolved and did not negatively impact any users of the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. Additionally, none of the identified vulnerabilities impacted voting or related systems. By releasing these results, Ohio voters can have greater confidence in Ohio’s elections.
Election integrity requires accountability and transparency. In 2021, Secretary LaRose unveiled a new website that for the first time allows campaign finance reports for local campaign committees to be filed electronically with their respective county boards of elections. Previously, the only option for voters to obtain a report was to contact their county board of elections. By placing these reports online, voters will be better able to see where candidates are getting their money and how it’s being spent. By the end of the year, nearly 1,900 campaign committees were utilizing the website.
SUPPORTING OHIO ENTREPRENEURS
Ohio’s entrepreneurial success has allowed for the opportunity to highlight several well-established and young businesses across Ohio. Emphasizing a different theme each month, Secretary LaRose made many visits to different Ohio businesses to learn how each one makes a special impact in their community. From outdoor activities to toy stores, Minority operated to Veteran entrepreneurs, Ohio is uniquely fortunate to have such successful, enterprising entrepreneurs taking risks and creating businesses in Ohio.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office is the gateway to business creation in Ohio. In 2021, Ohio once again set a record for the number of new businesses created across the Buckeye State. As of the publication of this document and with December business filings still to be finalized, 181,586 new businesses have been created so far in 2021, surpassing last year’s record by eight percent. In April, Ohio surpassed 20,000 new businesses created for the first time ever. Ohio’s business-friendly climate and the array of resources available to Ohio entrepreneurs have helped Ohio maintain its economic momentum throughout 2021.
In 2021, Secretary LaRose continued his efforts to reduce the red tape that makes it more difficult for minority, veteran, and women owned businesses to succeed. Thanks in large part to recommendations made by participants attending Minority Business Roundtables hosted by the Secretary of State’s office, LaRose has been a champion of new legislation which removes much of the unnecessary paperwork when minority, women and veteran entrepreneurs seek enterprise certification in Ohio.