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LaRose says he opposes federal takeover of elections

COLUMBUS — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose called on Thursday for the United States Congress to vote against House Resolution 1, a bill he said would effectively take over control of how states conduct elections.

His office said 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,” LaRose, a Republican, said of Democratic leaders in each chamber in a news release. “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.”

LaRose argues the proposal was unconstitutional.

“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,” he said. “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.”

HR1, known as the The For the People Act, was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland, in 2019.

Its supporters said that the aim of the legislation is to prevent corruption and restore ethics, by expanding voting rights, reforming campaign finance laws and limiting partisan gerrymandering in the redrawing of Congressional districts. It also would create new ethics rules for federal officeholders.

Groups supporting the proposal include the AFL-CIO, Common Cause, the NAACP, the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. It has been opposed by Republican officials, most notable Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, as well as conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation.

The legislation passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2019, but died in committee in the Senate, which was under Republican control at the time. Democrats gained control of the chamber in January, following the Georgia runoff elections, which resulted in a 50-50 split of the chamber, with with Vice President Kamala Harris giving the party a slight edge.

LaRose said he will soon be sending a letter to congressional leadership and Ohio’s congressional delegation requesting a no vote on HR 1.