COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today delivered the opening remarks at the 2018 Ohio Secretary of State Summer Conference held in Columbus, Ohio. Addressing the group of more than 500 elections officials gathered from around the state, Secretary Husted reminded those in attendance of all the work that has been done to improve elections in Ohio since 2011 and announced new initiatives aimed at further enhancing efforts to bolster election security preparedness in the Buckeye State.
“Ohio is a leader in elections administration because officials at every level work together to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in our state,” Secretary Husted said. “I am proud of the work that’s been done and grateful to the hardworking local elections officials for being dedicated partners in those efforts.”
As noted by Secretary Husted, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat has been a top priority for his administration. Ohio has had many successes on that front, some of which include:
- Online Voter Registration: To date, more than 26,000 people have registered online.
- Online Change of Address: More than 525,000 people have updated their registration online.
- Absentee Voting: First secretary of state to mail absentee ballot applications to voters, which have been sent out for general elections in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and will be sent out for this year’s general election. Established uniform days and hours for in-person absentee voting to ensure all voters have equal access to the ballot no matter where they live and giving them more than 200 hours to cast a ballot in person in every election.
- Voter Roll Maintenance: To date, more than 662,000 deceased voters have been removed; more than 1.84 million duplicate registrations have been resolved; and the percentage of voter registrations with complete information is over 90 percent – up from just 20 percent in January 2011.
- Technological Innovation: Secured $12.7 million in funding for electronic pollbooks, which have made elections simpler for both voters and the staff and volunteers who assist them on Election Day. Working with lawmakers to get legislation passed that will provide nearly $115 million for the purchase of new voting machines statewide.
- Information Sharing: Improved information among state agencies, like the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, to bring state in full compliance with the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 for the first time. Partnered with Pew’s Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which among other things has enabled state elections officials to contact nearly 1.8 million eligible, but unregistered Ohioans and encourage them to become voters.
- Voter Fraud: Conducted first ever statewide voter fraud review, identifying 820 voter irregularities and referring 201 to law enforcement to date. Also the first administration to review the voter rolls to identify non-citizens, identifying 821 non-citizens registered to vote and referring 126 to law enforcement to date.
- Poll Worker Recruitment & Training: Launched the Day for Democracy initiative to help county boards of elections recruit qualified poll workers. To date, nearly 20,000 poll workers have signed up through the secretary of state’s website and more than $2.3 million in training funds have been provided to county boards by the secretary of state’s office.
Secretary Husted has implemented these reforms to Ohio’s elections while also maintaining fiscal responsibility and efficiency. In fact, since becoming the state’s chief elections official in 2011, Secretary Husted has reduced the staff needed to operate his office by roughly 40 percent and payroll costs at the Secretary of State’s Office are at the lowest level in 10 years. In his first term alone, he cut spending by $14.5 million, a 16 percent reduction when compared to the previous administration at a time when state spending increased 17 percent. He also eliminated the need for any tax dollars to run his office for the last two years of his term. Secretary Husted’s request is saving taxpayers nearly $5 million over fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
While there have been several notable accomplishments, Secretary Husted also made clear that their work is not over. There is a special election scheduled for August 7 and the general election is set for November 6.
To that end, Secretary Husted announced new initiatives aimed at further bolstering the cybersecurity preparedness of the state’s elections infrastructure.
“When it comes to elections cybersecurity readiness, we must ensure that Ohio’s elections officials are not only ready for threats we’re facing today, but that they are also prepared for what may come tomorrow,” Secretary Husted. “We want voters to have confidence in the integrity of the state’s system of elections and that only happens if we remain vigilant and proactive.”
Election Security Workshops
The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office will host five election security workshops across the state this summer for boards of elections. These training sessions are designed to provide board staff with an opportunity to evaluate their readiness to deal with a cyber threat, asses their ability to perform tasks critical to procedural standards, and determine the effectiveness of existing practices and procedures in place for responding to cybersecurity threats. During these events, board staff will participate in a mock election cycle that will mirror real world conditions that will force participants to absorb information, make decisions and execute their plans.
HAVA II Funding
Recently, the state was awarded $12.1 million in federal funding through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The funding will be used to further enhance cybersecurity preparedness among all 88 county boards of elections by: improving information sharing; conducting threat assessments; ensuring security efforts meet industry standards; and, upgrading hardware and software. Secretary Husted will issue a directive at a later date with more details for counties.