Brown, representatives seek answers about Ohio SOS contact with attorney

Published 12:49 am Saturday, October 17, 2020

Group calls Von Spakovshy ‘ leading voter suppression advocate’

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, along with several Democratic members of the state’s U.S. House delegation have penned a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose demanding answers about his office’s contacts with a man they describe as “the nation’s leading voter suppression advocate.”

Brown, along with along with U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Joyce Beatty, Tim Ryan and Marcia Fudge, who serves as chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Elections, sent the letter to LaRose asking for information about his contacts with Hans Von Spakovsky, a conservative attorney who serves as manager of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative and is an advocate for more restrictive voting laws.

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The groups said they were also seeking details about Von Spakovsky’s influence over decisions made by the secretary’s office “affecting Ohioans’ access to the ballot box.”

“All Ohioans must be confident that – no matter how they vote – you and your office will take the steps necessary to ensure that all Ohioans are able to freely and fairly cast their ballots,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “We are concerned that Mr. Von Spakovsky’s influence over policy decisions coming from your office has undermined the confidence and trust Ohioans placed in your ability to fulfill your duties.”

They accused Von Spakovsky of “peddling widely debunked theories and pushing to impede Americans from exercising their right to vote.”

“He promotes fictitious voter fraud claims — assertions repudiated by scores of studies and courts of law — and uses them to justify proposals that would deny millions access to the ballot box. In Mr. Von Spakovsky’s long career searching for voter fraud, he never finds it, but, along the way, he leaves barriers to voting in his wake – particularly for Black and brown voters. For him, vote suppression is a feature, not a flaw.”

Brown’s office said, earlier this month, the lawmakers penned a letter to LaRose “blasting him for deceptively directing alternative ballot drop boxes to be placed alongside existing units.” They also urged Sec. LaRose to permit multiple drop boxes to be located throughout each county.