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Government & Politics
2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Is Ohio Ready for the 2020 Election? Secretary of State, League of Women Voters Weigh-In

photo of Frank LaRose
In his first year in office, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose toured all 88 boards of elections -- finishing on Friday in Summit County. The Akron native inspects the security bags used to transport data from polling places.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says the state’s voting systems are secure and ready for 2020. But Jen Miller of the League of Women Voters is concerned about voter turnout.

LaRose has been touring each of Ohio’s 88 Boards of Elections. He finished up last week in Akron, touting more than $114 million spent this year to equip almost every county with new voting machines. He estimates another $13-15 million in federal “Help America Vote Act” funds is on its way. And he says counties will be completing his 34-point voting security checklist by the end of next month to ensure readiness.

“We’ve required every board of elections to install an intrusion detector – it’s essentially a burglar alarm for your server and IT infrastructure. What it does is, it allows us to know – whether it’s 4 a.m. on a Saturday or whenever – if there is malicious activity occurring so we can respond to it.”

Jen Miller, executive director of Ohio’s League of Women Voters, is encouraged by that, but says the larger issue is increasing voter turnout – especially with next year’s primary coming on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Polling locations will likely have to change. There could be road closures because of parades. So especially for the primaries, we encourage early voting throughout the state.”

LaRose and Miller both say the state is also more secure thanks to the recent creation of the Ohio Cyber Reserve, consisting of IT professionals who can be deployed to combat attacks on government websites.

During LaRose’s tour of his hometown board of elections – in Summit County -- he stressed that the actual voting machines are never directly connected to the internet: