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Ohio Secretary of State Week in Review for the Week Ending May 27, 2022

Defending the Right to Vote

This week, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose testified in front of the Ohio Senate Committee on Local Elections and Government in favor of the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution reaffirming the right to vote is for only for U.S. citizens. According to a Legislative Service Commission analysis, there is ambiguity in current Ohio law that opens the door for localities to use home rule to permit noncitizens to vote in local issues.

The following is an excerpt from the Secretary’s testimony:

“In February of 2020, I presided over a naturalization ceremony in this very building. We swore in 219 new Americans from 54 different countries. These people stood their place in line, they filled out the abundance of paperwork, they worked hard and passed the language proficiency and civics tests (a test many who were granted their citizenship by birth may struggle to pass)… and then they waited. They waited to become a citizen of a nation that has been a beacon of freedom and democracy since our founding.

“As the ceremony wrapped up, my team and I got to work passing out voter registration forms and getting these new citizens ready to vote in their new home. They had earned it.

“Unfortunately, in 15 municipalities across the nation, the value of citizenship has been diminished by laws that allow non-citizens to vote. These individuals, who maintain allegiance to another nation, make decisions each election day that impact the daily life of Americans in places like San Francisco and New York City.

“The same attempt was made in 2020 right here in Ohio. The Village of Yellow Springs passed an ordinance that allowed non-citizens to vote.

“I stopped it.

“Unfortunately, I’m not always going to be the Secretary of State. Thanks to some more liberal interpretations of home rule, there is an argument that a municipality in Ohio could allow non-citizens to vote.

Secretary LaRose gives testimony regarding a new Constitutional Amendment

Watch the full testimony

Boards of Elections Certify May 3rd Election

As the deadlines passed for absentee ballots to be returned to the boards of elections, election officials have worked to certify the results of the election and were required to submit those certifications to the Ohio Secretary of State by close of business on Friday. Accuracy and security are paramount during this process, and Ohio implemented the safeguards needed to ensure official results reflect the will of voters. Ballots are kept under double lock-and-key with an access point that requires both a Republican key and a Democrat key. Additionally, all counting and other work done at the board of elections is performed with a bipartisan team. Boards send their election results to the Secretary of State’s office for final review before the results are officially certified.

Beyond highlighting the bipartisan professionalism of Ohio’s election staff, this process also demonstrates just how valuable a vote is. In the May primary, several races and issues came down to just a few votes. In fact, a race in Cuyahoga County resulted in a tie vote and was ultimately determined by a flip of a coin.

Cuyahoga County official flips a coin to determine a tie vote.

Honoring the Fallen

As the country prepares for the somber remembrance of those brave men and women who lost their lives in service to our nation, the state conducted the annual wreath laying ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse. Secretary LaRose, an Army combat veteran and Special Forces Non-commissioned Officer with the Army Reserves, delivered remarks and introduced Gold Star Father Jim Tate. Mr. Tate is the father of Corporal Jacob A. Tate, a U.S. Marine who was killed in 2011 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan.

Secretary LaRose participates in a Memorial Day remembrance.

Watch the full ceremony

Secretary LaRose shakes the hand of a retired service member.

Additional Meetings

Secretary LaRose visited Scioto Sign this week, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of indoor and outdoor signs with a history dating back to 1897. Secretary LaRose was joined by local elected officials as they toured the facility and spoke with the owner about how the state can better support business creation in a time of record inflation and continuing supply chain disruptions.

Secretary LaRose is shown how a die cutter is calibrated.

While in Bellefontaine on Wednesday, Secretary LaRose met with the team at Small Nation, a local business with a mission of restoring historic buildings. During his visit, CEO Jason Duff walked the Secretary through current projects in Bellefontaine and their plans for future development.

Secretary LaRose shakes hands with Small Nation business owner

This week, at the Ohio Statehouse, Soap Box Derby Ohio Champions representing more than 70 communities throughout Ohio were recognized. Secretary LaRose, a supporter of the youth program, met with the derby champions and presented them with proclamations from his office for their achievements.

Secreatry LaRose presents Soap Box Derby champions proclamations

In Case You Missed It

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WYSO: LaRose small business

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose held a roundtable discussion with entrepreneurs in Dayton last week. LaRose says he did it to celebrate small business owners and provide a space for them to connect. WYSO’s Garrett Reese has more. The group met in a private room at 1Eleven Flavor House, a downtown restaurant on West First Street. The goal of the day was to discuss shared issues for small business owners in Dayton. Or, as one business owner put it, how David can best beat Goliath. Whitney Barkley is the director of the Greater West Dayton Incubator. That’s an organization dedicated to helping minority entrepreneurs start their own businesses in Dayton. "I think that we have so many great options here in Dayton that a lot of times people don't really know where to start. So maybe having that starting point so people know exactly which resources they can leverage to grow their business, I think is one of the most important things that I see," Barkley said. Secretary LaRose says that anyone currently running a business or seeking to start one can access a variety of helpful resources at Ohio.

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The Toledo Blade: State ban on non-citizen voting not enough, Republicans say

COLUMBUS — Just as control of Congress, the U.S. Senate, and state offices are on the line on Nov. 8, Ohio Republicans are pushing a proposed constitutional amendment related to non-citizen voting to the ballot.
Would such a question be more likely to draw Republicans to the ballot at a time when former President Donald Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 elections remain very much alive among his supporters and the candidates he endorses?

“I think it would boost turnout generally,” said Rep. Bill Seitz (R., Cincinnati), sponsor of the resolution with Rep. Jay Edwards (R., Nelsonville).
“Polling on this shows 80 percent of Americans are in agreement. Non-citizens should not vote,” he said. “This has crossed party lines.”

State law already prohibits non-citizens from voting and Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has referred a handful of non-citizens who have managed to cast ballots for possible prosecution. The state constitution refers only to qualifying “citizens” having the right to vote.

[…]

The proposed amendment would substitute the word “only” for “every.” It would add the line, “No person who lacks those qualifications shall be permitted to vote at any state or local election held in this state.”

The amendment would then tie these terms to another article of the constitution that applies to home rule — local governments' general right of self-governance.

[…]

The resolution--along with companion Senate Joint Resolution 6, sponsored by Sen. Louis Blessing III (R., Cincinnati)--were introduced this week. In order for the question to appear on the ballot, three-fifths of both chambers—60 of 99 in the House and 20 or 33 in the Senate—must pass it by Aug. 10.

Lawmakers are tentatively expected to recess for the summer before mid-June.
Supporters of the amendment point to actions taken by the cities of New York and San Francisco to allow non-citizens to vote. In 2020, the village of Yellow Springs near Dayton approved a charter amendment allowing such voting in local races and issues only. Mr. LaRose blocked registrations under state law. He supports the proposed amendment.

Also, in 1917, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that cities could expand voting rights in local elections under their home-rule authority. This was in reaction to East Cleveland's expansion of eligibility to women at a time when only men could vote.

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