WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, July 17, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced his run for the 2024 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. LaRose, a two-term secretary of state, has grown increasingly extreme in his anti-democracy rhetoric and actions and has a pattern of flip-flopping on issues of grave concern to voters.
Most recently, LaRose made headlines for his sudden push to raise the threshold to pass constitutional amendments by way of ballot measures from 50% to 60% of the vote. Despite the fact that such an act would suppress voters’ will and foment minority rule, LaRose claimed in November 2022 that the higher threshold would “protect Ohioans’ Voices” and that the proposal was not about any issue in particular.
Yet later, LaRose admitted the measure was “100%” about keeping a “pro-abortion” amendment out of the state constitution. A group of Ohio voters and One Person One Vote sued LaRose over the language of the proposal, and the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in part for the petitioners, ruling that the ballot title for the proposed amendment must be rewritten and the word “electors” must be defined in the ballot language. LaRose also pushed to place the change before voters in a special, likely low-turnout August election despite previously advocating for the elimination of August elections precisely because of the likelihood of low turnout.
In another legislative effort LaRose announced a proposed bill called the Data Analysis Transparency Archive Act, which has spurred concern from voting rights groups and garnered praise from conservative activists. The American First Policy Institute, a Trump-aligned group with a history of supporting restrictions on voting, was credited by LaRose for helping to develop the bill.
In January, LaRose cheered the passing of House Bill 458, legislation that limited the use of drop boxes, shortened the time for returning mail-in ballots, required strict photo ID and prohibited curbside voting for all voters except those with a disability. And as if making it harder to vote in Ohio wasn’t enough, he also testified to Pennsylvania Republicans about adopting a proof of ID requirement in their own state.
Shortly after, LaRose spoke at an event titled, “They Stole it From Us Legally” alongside failed Arizona attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh (R), who has claimed his defeat in Arizona last November was a result of voter fraud and has repeatedly contested the election in court.
And, in possibly the most brazen example of LaRose succumbing to anti-democratic political winds, the Ohio secretary of state used his position to pull Ohio out of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is a non-profit organization that facilitates a multi-state partnership to ensure accurate voter rolls. In February, LaRose heralded ERIC as “one of the best tools… for maintaining the accuracy of our voter files.” A month later, he ordered Ohio’s exit from the compact in response to right-wing conspiracy theories about ERIC.
LaRose hasn’t limited his dangerous actions to just this year. In 2021 and 2022, he helped pass partisan gerrymanders of Ohio’s congressional and legislative maps that were repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
He also has a long record of purging voters off of voter rolls despite Democratic backlash, including doing so earlier this year. Most egregious, he once tried to purge tens of thousands of eligible voters off the rolls. It was only when voter rights groups and volunteers found out that 20% of the 235,000 voters set to be purged by LaRose were active voters that his attempt failed.
As he vies to unseat incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), LaRose joins state Sen. Matt Dolan (R) and businessman Bernie Moreno in the Republican primary.