Ohio’s chief elections officer, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, paid a visit to the Jackson County Board of Elections Office on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18. Pictured (from the left) are: Secretary of State Southern Ohio Liaison Lori Baldridge, Secretary of State LaRose, Jackson County Elections Board member Rodney Smith, Jackson County Deputy Elections Director Cheryl Browning, Jackson County Elections Board member Kida Newell, and Jackson County Elections Director Joanne Evans. (Telegram Photo by James Hamilton)
Ohio’s chief elections officer, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, paid a visit to the Jackson County Board of Elections Office on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18. Pictured (from the left) are: Secretary of State Southern Ohio Liaison Lori Baldridge, Secretary of State LaRose, Jackson County Elections Board member Rodney Smith, Jackson County Deputy Elections Director Cheryl Browning, Jackson County Elections Board member Kida Newell, and Jackson County Elections Director Joanne Evans. (Telegram Photo by James Hamilton)

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is not only the state’s chief elections officer, but his office is also the official gateway for the creation of new businesses.

In a busy visit to Jackson on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18, LaRose was able to address both topics and meet with involved local officials during two public stops. The first was at the Jackson County Elections Office, followed by his participation in a Business Roundtable forum held at the Jackson Center of Rio Grande Community College and co-hosted by the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership.

LaRose had the opportunity to tour the Jackson County Elections Office’s new quarters in the Jackson County Job and Family Services building at 25 E. South St. in Jackson. Jackson County Elections Director Joanne Evans and Deputy Director Cheryl Browning served as escorts and had exchanges with LaRose on operations and procedures.

LaRose touted Ohio’s favorable record for election accuracy and integrity and declared that in Ohio “it’s easy to vote, but hard to cheat.” He stated that security measures, bipartisan participation, employee training and post-elections audits all serve to make Ohio’s elections a model for the nation. He was proud to report that collective audits showed that Ohio elections totals were 99.98 percent accurate.

The Secretary of State also debunked the supposition that modern-day electronic voting opens the door to voter fraud and malevolent hackers. He noted that the electronic election process in Ohio is completely free of any Internet connections.

“Our ballots and our machines are never connected to the Internet,” LaRose declared.

LaRose presented a framed certificate to local elections officials which honored and memorialized Jackson County Elections Board member Judy Brunton, who died unexpectedly on Nov. 14. Browning described Brunton as playing an “integral” role and who always had a smile on her face. LaRose also acknowledged the planned retirements of both Evans and Browning, which are scheduled to take effect at the end of next June and noted the succession plan will provide plenty of time to choose and train their replacements.

The Business Roundtable involved participation from local and area economic development, business development, banking, and government leaders as well business students from the University of Rio Grande. Participants heard briefly from the Secretary of State, but also had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

LaRose noted that his office’s Business Services Division receives and approves articles of incorporation for Ohio business entities and grants licenses to out-of-state corporations seeking to do business in Ohio. Limited partnerships and limited liability companies also file with the Secretary of State’s Office.

LaRose was impressed that despite the COVID-19  pandemic, an all-time record of 171,000 new businesses were created in Ohio in 2020 and that number is about to be surpassed this year with more than a month still left in the year. He says his office strives to approve necessary paperwork very quickly at a very affordable price of only $99 while also providing helpful information about other available resources.

In the evening, LaRose attended a fundraiser conducted at ParksEdge Event Center in Jackson to benefit his 2022 campaign for re-election as Secretary of State.