EDITORIAL: Voting difficulties could have been avoided

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2023

Usually, voting on Election Day presents no problem for people in Lawrence County.

With a small population and an abundance of polling places, it goes off, without a hitch, year after year.

But Tuesday was a different story.

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For the statewide special election, measures had to be taken to reduces costs, as the state was not fully reimbursing counties for the expense of the August date.

And, in order to do that, the county’s board of elections reduced the number of polling places to three, while the number of voting machines were supplied based on forecasts of low turnout.

It was clear, shortly after voting began, that there were issues. Long lines began forming and voters at the Ironton and Fairland locations told The Tribune they had to wait up to an hour to vote.

The board of elections, besieged with calls, took steps to remedy that situation, and additional machines were supplied to the locations.

We do not fault the board for what happened on Tuesday, as they were stuck in a difficult position and tried their best to get it to work. We also applaud their quick steps to act when problems arose.

The issue lies with the way the election came about, forcing counties to bear most of the cost for an election that was mandated by the state.

Frank LaRose is Ohio’s secretary of state and its chief elections official.

In the weeks leading up to voting, he campaigned heavily in favor of the proposed Issue One amendment, so much so that many in the media dubbed him its public face (It also just happened to conveniently occur when he is seeking his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate next year). 

While there is nothing illegal about LaRose expressing such a position, it is a matter of the old saying: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

As the official tasked with ensuring fair elections across the state, maybe it was not the best idea for him to take such a partisan stance on a matter before voters.

And it is also a question of priorities.

Instead of barnstorming around the state in support of Issue One, the public would have been better served if LaRose had made his focus the logistics of the special election and conferring with counties to make sure they were in a position to carry out voting. 

Had the focus been on his job, rather than his political aspirations, maybe the difficulties of Tuesday could have been avoided.