Is Frank LaRose proving that Ohio needs a neutral, non-partisan elections chief?

September 1, 2023
Kevin Johnson

This op-ed by ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson originally appeared in the Ohio Capital Journal.

What would the NCAA do if the head referee in the Ohio State-Michigan game spent his free time leading rallies and fundraisers for the Wolverines? Even if he assured fans he’d be neutral for the game itself, Buckeye nation would never believe him.

This scenario just happened in the political arena, in the campaign surrounding the Aug. 8 Issue 1 ballot initiative.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose planned, campaigned for, solicited money for, and bent state rules for the “yes” vote in that election. During the final weeks of the campaign, he was a declared candidate for U.S. Senate with a personal interest in taking sides to gain GOP support. Though implications for the abortion ballot initiative in November have dominated news coverage of August’s Issue 1, this leadership failure atop the state’s election system should not be ignored. Ohio elections need neutral referees just as much as sports do.

Photo by Matthew Bornhorst on Unsplash