Ohio’s top elections official has condemned both presidential candidates’ comments about the integrity of the 2020 election, saying they need to stop questioning “the integrity of our elections.”
Secretary of State Frank LaRose named both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden as culprits of spreading misinformation.
“In Ohio we hold ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to elections integrity,” LaRose said in a statement provided to the Ohio Capital Journal. “Hundreds of local officials from both parties work every day to assure elections are honest and secure in all of our 88 counties. President Trump & Vice President Biden have both questioned the integrity of our elections recently without citing evidence, and they both need to stop it.”
The statement did not provide examples. LaRose recently criticized Biden on Twitter for comments the candidate made as a recent guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Trump has made a far greater number of claims alleging voter fraud, having spent years sharing unfounded theories on his social media pages.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s website says Ohioans can “report any election administration disinformation or misinformation” to the email address [email protected]
Here is what Biden and Trump have said.
On June 12, LaRose posted a six-second clip of Biden appearing on The Daily Show the day before:
To lead, elected leaders must have the consent of the governed. That requires an inherent trust in the security and legitimacy of our elections.
— Frank LaRose (@FrankLaRose) June 12, 2020
The clip came as part of a broader conversation about election management, with Noah referencing the controversial Georgia primary held on June 9. That primary was marred by reports of faulty voting machines and voters having to wait in long lines to cast ballots.
Noah asked: “So, what is the plan up until November to make that sure people can vote, to make sure that everyone, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, black or white, has the opportunity to vote without being in a line that’s six hours long?”
Biden replied, as seen in the above clip: “It’s my greatest concern, my single greatest concern, this president’s going to try to steal this election.”
He continued by referencing the president having voted by mail despite criticizing the validity of mailed ballots.
“This is the guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary,” Biden said. “This is the guy, you have 23, I believe, of the states have passed over 82 pieces of legislation making it harder for people to vote. Harder. That’s why we’re putting together a major initiative of lawyers to go out and make sure that we’re in every single district in the country to patrol this.”
Biden went on to say he supported same-day registration, which allows someone to cast a ballot on the same day they register to vote.
Noah asked if the candidate had considered what would happen if Trump refused to leave the White House despite losing the 2020 election.
“Yes, I have,” Biden replied, later saying he was “absolutely convinced (the military) will escort him from the White House” if Trump refused to leave.
Trump has rejected that allegation, saying he would leave peacefully if he loses in November.
LaRose takes issue with Biden’s claim the president would try to “steal” the upcoming election. Trump has made many similar claims in the past. A review of Trump’s Twitter activity — from both before and after becoming president — shows the scope of his allegations far outweigh that of his Democratic challenger.
We don’t want to have a recount in any of the battleground states. Obama will steal it. Make sure all your friends and family vote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2012
Trump has made specific allegations of elections fraud in the states of Iowa, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, California, Indiana, Texas, Nevada and Michigan.
State of Nevada “thinks” that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, “I think” I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections. @RussVought45 @USTreasury
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016
Trump has focused much of his ire on the Democratic Party, but he has alleged that fellow Republicans have been involved in rigging elections as well:
Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
Word is-early voting in FL is very dishonest. Little Marco, his State Chairman, & their minions are working overtime-trying to rig the vote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2016
In sum, Trump has tweeted claims of elections being “stolen,” “fraudulent” and “rigged” dozens of times.
Most of Trump’s complaints in 2020 have dealt with mail-in ballots. He has claimed “Democrats are clamoring” for statewide mail-in voting, despite the fact that Republican-led states (such as Ohio) feature that option already. He has claimed, without evidence, that allowing mail-in ballots “substantially increases the risk of crime and VOTER FRAUD!”
LaRose, a Trump ally who helped to organize the president’s inauguration in 2017, pushed back on that claim in April without mentioning Trump by name:
I can tell you that’s not the case in Ohio. As I’ve said, we’re fortunate that we’ve been doing vote by mail for a long time. We know how to do it, and we know how to get it done securely.
Hope we can get back to normal for November, but we’ll be ready no matter the situation.
— Frank LaRose (@FrankLaRose) April 12, 2020
Trump noted that Michigan’s secretary of state sent out absentee ballot applications to all voters and characterized this as voter fraud, despite the fact that Republican-led states (such as Ohio) do the same thing.
He has also claimed, without evidence, that allowing mail-in ballots would lead to ballots being robbed in mailboxes; to forged ballots being printed; to ballots being harvesting; to having “professionals” tell citizens how to vote; and that ballots would be printed “by foreign countries.”
The Trump campaign has not only scrutinized absentee voting. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law who serves as a campaign advisor, claimed at a Columbus rally in January that Democrats would try to cheat the system at the ballot box.
“Sometimes when people get desperate, sometimes they try and cheat. I’m just throwing it out there. So we have to be on guard,” she told supporters. “We gotta watch the polls, make sure no funny business is happening when people are voting, cause you know they’re trying to register dead people still and do all that crazy stuff. They’re desperate, they’re doing anything they can.”
As the Ohio Capital Journal has reported, there are safeguards in place to protect the integrity of mail-in voting. In Ohio, voters must confirm their identification on an absentee ballot application before receiving a blank ballot to fill out. They must provide signatures on both the application form and the ballot itself, and these signatures are compared to the one on file with a voter’s original registration.
Ballots are sent to voters with a sealable envelope and by law can only be handled by a close family member or a postal employee. Voters can then track their ballots online at voteohio.gov.