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State election officials must stay neutral despite beliefs

Secretaries of state have a responsibility to oversee elections that are fair and constitutional. At least while they are carrying out that work, voters have a right to believe none of the officeholder’s own political leanings will make their way into the way an election is carried out.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (also chairman of the Ohio Ballot Board) repeatedly assured voters his role in developing November 2023 ballot language for Ohio’s Issue 1 was to write truthful and unbiased language.

But even the Ohio Supreme Court ruled one disputed element of the original ballot language was misleading and needed to be rewritten.

Now LaRose is admitting how it got that way.

He told the Strongsville GOP that he had consulted with three prominent anti-abortion groups while drafting the contested ballot language used to describe Issue 1.

In response to a question at the Republican club’s event, LaRose said his office consulted with Susan B. Anthony Pro Life America, the Center for Christian Virtue and Ohio Right to Life while writing the ballot language, three groups with central roles in the anti-Issue 1 campaign, Protect Women Ohio.

“So they wanted that,” LaRose is reported to have told the Strongsville GOP. “They thought that was reasonable and would be helpful to them.”

We’ve had plenty of elected officials saying the quiet part out loud in recent years, but for Ohioans, that one might be a new low.

Still, despite LaRose’s efforts, voters did not allow themselves to be manipulated as he had hoped. Though it might be naive to believe such a realization will change LaRose’s thinking, Buckeye State residents can hope … and think even more carefully about their choices in the next election.

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