COLUMBUS — In the wake of the results reporting failures with the Iowa Democratic Caucuses on Monday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose explained Tuesday how the Ohio Primary Election is protected from similar problems.
“The way we run things in Ohio couldn’t be more different. These are 88 boards of elections. As you know, your Wood County Board of Elections, I’m sure you know those folks well,” LaRose said at an Associated Press forum on elections held in Columbus. “You have elections professionals who do this for a living — Republicans and Democrats, who run the Ohio Primary, 35,000 people are out working the polls election day for our primary.”
In Ohio, the secretary of state is in charge of elections. In an interview, LaRose pointed out that it is an evolving situation but that it appeared to be more of malfunctioning, or poorly designed, reporting software, over a malicious attack on the system, that caused the Iowa problems.
LaRose stressed the professionalism of the individuals running the Ohio system that is run by the state, instead of a party-run system like Iowa’s.
“It’s important to point out that there is a huge difference between the way Ohio runs a primary election and the way Iowa runs a caucus. A caucus in Iowa is a party function. It is run entirely by the party. The Iowa Democratic Party runs their caucus and the Iowa Republican Party runs their caucus. It’s run largely by party volunteers,” LaRose said.
The data collection and centralization methods are also different.
“As you saw, the Iowa Democratic Party chose to purchase some app to use to try to capture the results and use them for reporting. That has obviously proven to be a mistake on their part,” LaRose said. “I can tell you we would have never approved this app that they bought. I guess they spent $60,000 on this app that wasn’t pressure tested to make sure it was ready.”
New election technology used in Ohio has to go through several levels of testing before approval.
“Anything that we use for elections technology in Ohio goes through a much more robust scrutiny process than that. For example through our Board of Voting Machine Examiners, which is a state body that tests and certifies things,” LaRose said. “Even that is only after they have been tested and certified at the federal level as well. Very different processes.”
LaRose also addressed the technological side of the Ohio election reporting process, saying that it has also bypassed several potential hazards associated with wireless technology. Most notably, collection by the secretary of state office is not connected to the internet, making an attack from that type of entry impossible. There is also a paper trail for every vote.
“It’s done through a very different process. We have a dedicated hard wired line into each county board of elections and they use that to report results to us,” LaRose said.
“But even if there were a problem with that, we have a system in place where our staff gets on the phones and we can call each of the 88 boards of elections and get the results that way as well. Obviously you need redundancy in anything like this. There’s always a back-up plan.”