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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.

Ohio's Electors Vote for Trump, Cast Unfounded Doubts on Election Results

All 538 members of the Electoral College are voting across the country today, including the 18 electors in Ohio.

It’s a process described in law and with lots of formality, but little suspense. Ohio's 18 electors were pledged to President Donald Trump.

So when Ohio campaign adviser Bob Paduchik, the chair of the state’s 55th Electoral College, announced the unanimous vote to the electors and observers in the Ohio Senate chambers, it was not a shock.

(All of those in the chamber wore masks and were seated far apart.)

Trump won Ohio by a little over 8 points. The pandemic and record turnout made this election challenging for elections officials, poll workers and voters, said Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“Working together, we were able to accomplish something that many thought was impossible, the most difficult election of our lifetime. It’s not hyperbole to say the 2020 was perhaps the most difficult election ever conducted in the state of Ohio," LaRose said.

Though Trump more than 313,000 more votes this year in Ohio than in 2016, his statewide total was just less than his margin of victory from four years ago because more than 5.9 million Ohioans cast ballots, the highest in state history.

The election in Ohio was never disputed by Trump, though Ohio is among several states that used machines from Dominion Voting Systems. Baseless claims of vote switching on those machines have been rejected by courts, and Dominion notes on its website that those claims “have been debunked by election officials, subject matter experts and third-party fact checkers.”

While there was no question about the Ohio vote among the 18 electors, there were concerns about the vote in other states. There have been threats of violence in some, and Michigan and Arizona had to hold their Electoral College votes in secure locations because of fears for the safety of electors.

Allen County Republican Party Chair Keith Cheney is an elector from Lima, and said after the vote: "The bottom line is, I’m here as an elector in the state of Ohio. We did our job. We voted for the president of the United States, and I’m proud to sign those certificates today.”

Two electors who had been selected by the Ohio Republican Party in September weren’t at this session: Patricia Weber of Akron and Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott.

Lee Ann Johnson, chair of Ohio Women for Trump and the wife of Ohio Trump campaign honorary state co-chair Congressman Bill Johnson, was picked to fill in for Weber.

“I do have questions about it nationwide. There are still cases pending in court, and we just have to see what that outcome will be," Johnson said after the vote.

There have been nearly 60 challenges to the election filed in courts in nine states by the Trump legal team. They’ve lost all but one of them, and some of the cases have been dismissed with prejudice and pointed words from judges.

Elector and Columbiana County Republican Party chair Dave Johnson also says he’s concerned about what he calls “irregularities.” All 50 states have certified their results and declared Joe Biden the winner.

Johnson was asked after the vote if he accepts that Biden is the president-elect: “I don’t. I personally don’t. I have great reservations, and I think there needs to be a major bipartisan investigation as to what happened.”

On Friday, the US Supreme Court, including the three justices nominated by Trump, rejected the bid by Texas to toss out the results of the votes in four states Biden won. One-hundred twenty-six of the 196 Republicans in the House had backed that lawsuit, including five Congressmen from Ohio: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH 4), Bill Johnson (R-OH 6), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH 2), Bob Latta (R-OH 5) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH 7). 

The Electoral College vote isn’t the final step. The U.S. Congress will vote to accept the Electoral College votes Jan. 6, 2021. So far, of Ohio’s 13 Republican members of Congress, only two—Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River)—have acknowledged Biden as the president-elect.

Sen. Rob Portman has been cagey, writing in an op-ed that there’s no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities and that Biden has “enough electoral votes to win," but stopping short of calling him the president-elect.
Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.