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Ohio elections chief rejects claim of election problems by failed gubernatorial candidate

 A person casts a vote in Grove City, just south of Columbus.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
A person casts a vote in Grove City, just south of Columbus.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone, who came in third place in last week’s primary, is questioning the integrity of the May 3 election. But Ohio’s top elections chief said he’s confident the election was legitimate.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, said the primary vote is still being certified, but he’s confident it will prove more than 99% accurate, as in previous Ohio elections.

“It’s not uncommon, unfortunately, for candidates that lose to make accusations like that but certainly if he had any evidence, we would want to see it,” LaRose said.

Gov. Mike DeWine won the Republican nomination in Ohio's gubernatorial primary against Blystone, former Congressman Jim Renacci, and former state representative Ron Hood. DeWine received twice as many votes as Blystone, and there has been no evidence of voter fraud.

But Blystone put out a call on social media for anyone who observed an “anomaly” while voting to report them so they can be investigated. On May 5, Blystone's Twitter post read, "Everyone needs to carefully document every anomaly you encountered while voting yesterday." He included an image with the words "VOTER FRAUD" in neon letters.

Lack of elections integrity has been a common theme among supporters of former President Donald Trump who insists the 2020 election was stolen. There has not been any evidence to back up that claim.

But it doesn't keep Trump from repeating it to those who have been attending his rallies, including one in Delaware recently. And it's not just Trump. At the central Ohio rally in April, Mike Lindell, owner of "My Pillow" and a staunch supporter of Trump, made baseless allegations of voter fraud. Several of the candidates supported by Trump, including Republican J.D. Vance who won the U.S. Senate primary, have not spoken out publicly against Trump's claims about a fraudulent election.

While there's been no evidence that voter fraud has been a big issue in Ohio, LaRose tweeted in February that Trump is right to say voter fraud is a serious problem. However, LaRose also released a report this year that spotted 27 potential cases of voter fraud of nearly six million Ohio votes cast in November 2020.

Just a few days before the May 3 primary, Trump endorsed LaRose and he went on to win a primary challenge against other candidates including former state representative John Adams.

At the Delaware rally, Trump told the crowd he was endorsing LaRose who "did a fabulous job on redistricting." Constitutional Ohio legislative redistricting maps have yet to be drawn by the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission, on which LaRose is a member. That means those races were not included on the May 3 ballot. Another election to allow voters to decide those races will need to be held later this summer. LaRose said he expects the election will be held on August 2, but there's no legislation in the Ohio General Assembly at this point to make that happen.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.