This time next week the polls will open and people will vote.
NewsCenter 7’s John Bedell gets an inside look at the security measures being put in place to protect your vote in Ohio.
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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told NewsCenter 7 about what he called a “crisis of confidence” in Ohio’s election.
“We’ve seen polls that show many Ohioans don’t trust the integrity of our elections,” LaRose said. “You know, it’s also interesting, historically it’s nothing new. After the 2000 elections, there were similar concerns after the 2004 elections.
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News Center 7 asked voters if they were concerned about election security.
“It’s a concern to me,” said Dean Jackson of West Milton.
“I just want to make sure that the government has promised us that our vote really does matter,” said Barbara Brower of Troy.
In Miami County, election workers showed NewsCenter 7 how they test each voting machine before sending it to a polling place.
They are loaded with test ballots to ensure accuracy, then workers upload test run results to ensure the memory cards work.
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They also conduct public tests to let voters see first-hand how the process works. Once that is done, the test results are erased from the memory cards and the machine is set up for election.
“We seal them when we’re done so they’re ready to go. No one will touch them. We verify before we use it that it’s sealed when we test it to prove everything is intact between the time it’s tested and the time it’s used,” said Laura Bruns, Miami County Board. Director of Elections.
All their work is done in bi-partisan teams to ensure fairness.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office also oversees election security.
The office has created its new Public Integrity Division. This is a dedicated team that will investigate complaints of voter fraud or voter suppression, campaign finance violations, and maintaining accurate voter rolls in Ohio.
NewsCenter 7’s John Bedell spoke with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose about the new initiative. “With the addition of these professional investigators, we will be able to do a more thorough and efficient job of investigating those reports when we receive them,” LaRose said. “And the bottom line is this: Voter fraud is rare. Voter suppression is also rare. But both these crimes should be taken seriously. And so if it is found, we will investigate it and we will arrest you and if you try to do any of these things, you will be brought to justice.”
LaRose said the Department of Public Integrity can conduct a thorough investigation and, if necessary, send case files of evidence to the county prosecutor’s office or the Ohio Attorney General’s office for prosecution.
The secretary of state also told WHOIO that the department’s efforts are about increasing confidence in Ohio’s proven election system and that his office wants to see more voter participation.
“We want more Ohioans to go to the polls or participate in early and absentee voting on Election Day because they feel confident that elections are fair. And most importantly, people participate in elections more often when they believe they are honest. And that’s what it’s all about, increasing people’s trust in our elections and increasing participation,” LaRose said.
LaRose said he wants to start by hiring two full-time investigators.
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