COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As the days tick down leading up to Ohio’s major political races in November, Secretary of State Frank LaRose made a major announcement as his office prepares to oversee the Nov. 8 general election.
The new Public Integrity Division is designed to roll up all of the secretary of state’s investigations into voter fraud into one branch. LaRose said the division will check campaign finance reporting, voting system certification, voter registration integrity, election law violations and cybersecurity among other aspects of the state’s voting system.
“Our office has had that responsibility for a long time, but we’ve never had actual professional investigators that can dig into the facts, get the information and make sure that we bring bad guys to justice,” LaRose said during a live interview on NBC4.
Watch LaRose’s full interview with morning anchor Matt Barnes in the video player above.
While rare, the state has had brushes with voter fraud in recent years. The secretary of state’s office announced in September that it was investigating four people’s voting in the 2020 general election, because they potentially cast ballots both in Ohio and another state. LaRose previously said in 2021 that his office had found 13 possible cases of voter fraud during the same election.
“We’ve had 31 elections in the last two years that were determined by a coin flip because they were a dead tie, and so one fraudulent vote is one too many,” LaRose said.
Those incidents and the current political climate have contributed to growing concerns around election security. LaRose said he wants the Public Integrity Division, which will get additional financial and operational resources, to change that.
“There is a high number of people that just don’t trust elections, and we need to help restore their faith,” LaRose said.
Alongside its targeted field of work, LaRose said the Public Integrity Division will also roll out mandatory pre- and post-election audits, as well as cross-examination of voter registration data between Ohio and other states. The new division opens for business on Oct. 10, one day before the deadline for voter registration in-state.