LaRose used hyperbolic scare tactics to attack voters and making voting harder. Now he plays victim

February 14, 2023 4:30 am

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose talks to reporters. (Photo by Susan Tebben, OCJ.)

Some tweets are too rich in irony to ignore.

“I put out a call to action for groups to drop the hyperbolic scare tactics and partner with us to inform Ohioans about new election reforms. Will they join us or play politics?” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is quite a card!

Surely the guy who has never stopped playing politics with partisan redistricting, with making it harder for citizens to amend the constitution, with championing the most restrictive voter ID mandate in the country, tweeted with tongue-in-cheek.

Funny, Frank. Your post was priceless. Let’s unpack it, shall we? The “new election reforms” phrase is an oxymoron. Ohio House Bill 458 was the first major voter suppression law to be enacted after the 2022 midterms. It imposes a strict photo ID requirement on Ohio voters and includes several other restrictions on voting in the state for no good reason. 

The bill was passed in the middle of the night on the final day of the last session and signed into law by Gov. Rubberstamp. It erects new election barriers to voting based on a hypothetical problem invented by dishonest politicians.

MAGA Republicans in Ohio aren’t reforming the state’s election system. They uniformly praise Ohio’s election apparatus as the gold standard of integrity and confirm no widespread fraud in Ohio to justify sweeping changes to the voting process. 

To outlaw all non-photo voter IDs (that have effectively identified registered voters for years without incident) LaRose & Company relied instead on the myths about voter fraud invented by an ex-president who tried to fraudulently steal an election.

Ohio’s chief election officer is perpetuating a hoax.  He is not fixing anything that’s broken in the state’s free, fair, secure, and incredibly accurate elections. 

LaRose is giving credence to a lie (amplified by MAGA Republicans) and arguably disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters as a result. He claims 98% of Ohio voters have valid photo IDs to cast a ballot, but can’t cite valid pretext for making the other 2% jump through hoops. He touts the new law as another tool in the box to fight virtually nonexistent voter fraud.  

LaRose oversees the intricate checks and balances in the state’s election machinery. He has boasted about how diligently the system flags potential irregularities or fraudulent activity. The number of questionable ballots is infinitesimal compared to the millions cast. In 2020, LaRose’s office referred 75 allegations of voter fraud to law enforcement agencies out of over 8 million votes cast.

Certainly the Ohio Republican could set the record straight and dispel the fabrications that emerged after the 2020 election rather than indulge them with unsupported conjecture. But he doesn’t. He could counter the flood of falsehoods about stolen elections with the truth. But he doesn’t. Ohio’s by-the-book elections are largely problem-free. Voter fraud is nowhere to be found. 

LaRose knows that, but insinuates otherwise. The handful of possible fraud cases targeted for investigation were “ONLY THE BEGINNING,” LaRose tweeted last year. To voting advocates who called his bluff on overstating election fraud (to impose unwarranted voter restrictions) he tweeted derision about “hyperbolic scare tactics.”

LaRose is auditioning for extreme ahead of an expected U.S. Senate campaign next year. So he pretends disinformation about rampant voter fraud has merit. 

“President Trump is right to say voter fraud is a serious problem,” LaRose tweeted in 2022 knowing full well it is not in Ohio or anywhere else.

In a Twitter outburst for MAGA appeal, he slammed the “mainstream media” for accurately reporting on his own press release publicizing Ohio’s election success story.

“Here they go again” he charged baselessly, “trying to minimize voter fraud to suit their narrative.” 

The only one concocting a bogus narrative to promote wholesale disruptions in how Ohio conducts its elections is LaRose.

He legitimizes groundless fears about compromised elections by implying that election “integrity” and voter confidence needs to be restored with strict, state-issued photo IDs to prevent (imaginary) voter impersonation in Ohio. It’s a ruse.

The elections chief claims to take the concerns of Ohioans seriously and is “dedicated to continuously improving our elections.” Don’t believe him.

How do you improve elections with burdensome difficulties that disproportionally affect the disabled, the elderly, the poor, the young who now have to travel to identification-issuing offices with qualifying documents they must produce (and pay for) just to vote? 

How do reduced and confusing early voting options and a shortened window for voters to correct ballot mistakes improve what should be an easy and accessible process to encourage more participation not less?

Ohio’s new voter ID law is premised on a made-up story propagated by a fraud. It is the antithesis of integrity. 

“Partner with us,” tweeted LaRose to voting rights groups about informing voters of the rights they no longer enjoy.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio noted it’s hard to “partner” with someone who ignores repeated requests for a meeting. Meanwhile, confusion reigns, voter outreach programs remain uncertain, and early in-person voting and absentee voting for the May primary begins in a month and half. 

But LaRose is tweeting snark about everything from the border to the balloon and eliminating all credibility in his day job. What a card.



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Marilou Johanek
Marilou Johanek

Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.