The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

Ohio secretary of state visits elections bd.

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was in Van Wert on Tuesday to tour the Van Wert County Board of Elections office and speak with local elections officials and other local government representatives. The visit was part of LaRose’s goal of traveling to all 88 county boards of election this year.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (second from left) greets elections worker Connie Hoverman while Elections Director Linda Stutz (left), Deputy Pam Henderson (seated) and other volunteers look on. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

After a meet-and-greet with local officials, including Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur, County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger, County Recorder Kim Hughes, County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach, Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor, and County Clerk of Courts Cindy Mollenkopf, LaRose toured the board’s new offices at 1362 E. Ervin Road and spoke with County Elections Director Linda Stutz and her staff, which includes deputies Brenda Weaver and Pam Henderson.

If there was one thread running through the state’s chief elections officer’s commentary on Tuesday it was election security. Noting that Ohio is a trend-setter in election security, LaRose said that his goal is to ensure Ohio voters that election results are fair and accurate.

“Folks should know when they see the results on Election Night that it was an honest contest, and they can go to bed knowing that the winner won and the loser lost,” he said. “That’s our goal as elections officials.”

The secretary of state noted that most people have no idea of the efforts made in Ohio to protect election results.

“There are a lot of safeguards that exist that the average person has no idea about,” LaRose stated.

He also complimented Stutz and her staff on the set-up of the office and on the job they have done keeping county elections running smoothly and securely, and also pointed out some of the security in place in the office, including double locked doors that take two people to open, with keys kept by Stutz, a Republican, and Weaver, a Democrat.

“Far too often, it only gets noticed when something goes wrong,” LaRose said of county election efforts. “The general public sometimes thinks you only work two days a year. The work of the board of elections is a year-round endeavor that takes a lot of effort.”

LaRose and Stutz discuss some of the ways the local board operates efficiently and securely.

The secretary of state did have some suggestions for the office. LaRose asked whether the office had a generator to ensure an election could proceed even during a power outage. When Stutz noted that they could bring in a generator from the local Emergency Management Agency if the power went out, LaRose suggested Stutz spend some money to have an electrician install electrical connections on the outside of the building so a generator could be connected quickly and easily.

He also noted that, while the mandate he has placed on county elections offices in the area of election security has been a “tall task”, he appreciates all that county elections offices have done to make Ohio a leader in elections security.

LaRose also said that, while Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on anything at the national level, the two political parties regularly cooperate to run county elections offices smoothly and efficiently.

He said that, if anything, elections boards probably make their job look too easy.

“The mark of a professional; the mark of someone who is really good at what they do, is that they make it look effortless,” LaRose noted.

POSTED: 12/11/19 at 8:08 am. FILED UNDER: News