With the 2020 presidential primary rapidly approaching, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Ohio is the “best prepared” state in the nation.
LaRose spoke at the Dayton League of Women Voters annual Capitol Chat on Tuesday evening. The question-and-answer-style event was held at the Dayton Club at 40 N. Main St.
Absentee ballots for those serving overseas will be sent out in less than 20 days and boards of election across the state are more than ready, LaRose said.
The presidential primary is on Mar. 17 and early voting is just about a month away.
“The 2020 election is here and we’re ready for it,” he said.“Ohio is the best prepared state of any state in the nation.”
Turnout for the November 2019 election was very low, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Elections officials said that in an election without a presidential candidate or statewide issue on the ballot, the low turnout was expected.
LaRose said he anticipates the 2020 presidential primary and general elections will draw a big crowd.
“The 2016 presidential election had the highest turnout in our state’s history, 2018 had the highest turnout for a gubernatorial election in our state’s history and I think that trend will continue throughout 2020,” LaRose said.
One of the things Ohio has done to prepare for the 2020 election was get new voting equipment, LaRose said.
Many counties, including Montgomery, used this new election equipment in the November 2019 election. LaRose said this new equipment is more secure than older election equipment.
“They are the most secure, reliable machines available. Ohio made a big investment in that last year,” LaRose said.
Since Montgomery County used the new equipment this past November, many poll workers and those who already voted on it are familiar with it.
“It’s important for folks to know that when they cast their ballot, they’re casting a ballot on a machine that has never been connected to the internet,” LaRose said.
Even after the election, when results are tabulated, the machines are still not connected to the internet. LaRose said Ohio is leading the nation in terms of cybersecurity.
He said is very confident in the new voting equipment and that voters in the Miami Valley should be too.
“When your vote is cast, it’s going to be accurately counted,” LaRose said.
LaRose said it is important to keep board of elections websites safe from cyber criminals and also create a “human firewall” by doing things such as creating a safe password, using multi-factor authentication or implementing background checks for vendors of election equipment and other workers.
LaRose said his own website fought off a cyberattack during the November elections.
“This was a targeted attack aimed at the Secretary of State website,” LaRose said. “We mitigated it.”
When the attack was tracked, LaRose said they found the IP address belonged to a Russian cryptocurrency company.
“That’s a success story, but we have to be vigilant,” he said.
The secretary of state also talked about how important each vote is, nodding to Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald, who recently won reelection by just a few votes. Exercising one’s right to vote is especially important in 2020, LaRose said, as women gained the right to vote 100 years ago this year.
“No Ohioan should skip the right to make their voice heard every time we have an election,” LaRose said.
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