Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in collaboration with State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) introduced legislation on Wednesday to increase transparency in Ohio’s elections.
Senate Bill (SB) 71 known as the Data Analysis Transparency Archive (DATA) Act aims to codify standard definitions of key election data, create within the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office an office of data analytics and archives which will serve as a clearing house for retention and review, publish standardized data and results online, and codifies a process for county Board of Elections to transfer election data to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
According to LaRose, many Ohioans and Americans lack the confidence that they should have in the electoral system for a variety of reasons such as false information and lack of transparency and inability to access the data that they need.
LaRose stated that this lack of confidence is not a new problem and that the Civil Rights Act of 1960 previously addressed the issue stating that “Every officer of elections shall retain and preserve for a period of 22 months from the date of any general special or primary election all records or papers which come into his possession.”
“I think that is a lofty goal and it’s one that candidly for many years we have fallen short of,” LaRose said.
According to LaRose, many states throughout the U.S. have done little to codify the retention of electronic election-related records and there are very inconsistent standards for defining voter data throughout Ohio’s 88 counties.
“Because of modern IT systems, some of these records get over-written. Maybe even on a daily basis. So when the new record is added into the archival system the old record disappears into the ether. That’s a problem,” LaRose said.
The DATA Act aims to modernize and clarify the way Ohio defines and archives election records. It constitutes the first significant attempt in more than 60 years by any state to rectify the outmoded, fragmented procedures of election data keeping.
According to Gaverone, the DATA Act is a paramount priority of hers.
“The DATA Act, in addition to the laws I wrote to require a photo ID to vote and, with the help of Secretary LaRose, enact some of the most stringent post-election auditing measures in the country, continues to give Ohioans the transparency and trust in their elections that they’ve demanded,” Gaverone said.
LaRose said that he anticipates both Republicans and Democrats to embrace this legislation.
“This example of Ohio leading the way something that should be embraced by both Republicans and Democrats because it’s all about making sure that the public is empowered with accurate data so they can look at how elections are run and have confidence in knowing that when the elections are over that it was the true voice of the people that was heard in an honest election and one that they can trust,” LaRose said.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]