The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2020

Elections Bd. on administrative oversight

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert County’s Board of Elections is working to correct issues that led to it being the only county board statewide placed on administrative oversight for failing to meet election security directives.

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 during a visit to the county in December 2019. VW independent file photo

County Elections Director Linda Stutz issued the statement early Thursday afternoon on the issue after a meeting with state officials.

“The Board had completed 84 percent of the requirements and are continuing to work to get the balance finished. There are a few minor issues in the Election Board office, according to the Secretary of State, concerning the new cyber security. The Election Board members and county officials meet with members of the Secretary of State’s office this morning. Most issues have been completed and the rest of the items are being addressed at this time. Van Wert County voters can be assured of fair, honest, and accurate election outcomes.”

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose had directed in June 2019 that elections boards in all of Ohio’s 88 counties meet requirements to improve election security, such as a secured website and email domains, as well as security training, cyber-attack detection, “system hardening” and network defense, background checks for elections personnel, and physical security assessments.

“The directive included a checklist of 34 separate requirements that must be met in order to be considered compliant,” LaRose said in the release. “The specifics of this checklist essentially serve as Ohio’s detailed defense plan against adversaries who seek to disrupt our elections.”

A total of 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties completed the checklist, with Van Wert, Hamilton, Ottawa, Warren, Carroll, Holmes, Trumbull, and Clark counties the only counties not complying with LaRose’s requirements.

However, Van Wert County was the only one placed on administrative oversight, requiring county elections officials to report weekly to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to ensure that the local board is meeting the directives and effectively administering elections.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Van Wert County “failed to accurately and honestly report implementation progress.” The Secretary of State’s Election Division will also hold in-person meetings with the local board, LaRose noted.

“There will inevitably be attacks on our election system,” LaRose said. “We have to be vigilant, and this successful implementation of our security directive leaves no doubt that Ohio is the best-prepared state in the nation.”

The action comes just two months after LaRose made a personal visit to the Van Wert County elections office as part of his goal of visiting all 88 county elections offices.

The action comes two weeks before early voting starts on February 19.

POSTED: 02/05/20 at 8:35 pm. FILED UNDER: News