Ohio Secretary of State offers insight to improve Lucas County's elections

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - When it comes to Lucas County's elections, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose believes there's room for improvement.

"There have been some missteps," LaRose said of Lucas County's board. "There's been a history of that. It's unacceptable, and it's going to end."

In recent years the county's board of elections has run into problems in seemingly every election. In November, results didn't come in until after 2 a.m. the next day. There were even issues with polling machines and the memory cards that store votes.

"There have been, and needs to be, more sort of cultural changes in the culture of accountability — the way that they operate," LaRose said.

On Tuesday, LaRose and his team spent time in Toledo discussing ways to improve the process. The secretary of state even tapped the formerly troubled Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for additional guidance.

"We're serious about changing and getting this board better than it is right now," LaRose said.

Despite running into problems in the past the board of elections' executive director LaVera Scott says she's taking steps to improve things.

"Anything that we can do to make the operation smoother, we're willing to do," Scott said.

Scott says some fixes include pre-wiring machines so volunteers don't have to assemble equipment themselves. Training is also being revamped and focus groups will help determine what works and what doesn't on Election Day.

"We want to be able to [make] it ... right and ... a little bit faster, and we're going to do that," Scott said. "I have no doubts that it's going to happen."

With an all-important presidential election next year LaRose says the landscape must change in Lucas County in a time when voter confidence is key.

"I reserve the right to replace them," LaRose said of the board of elections. "This is something that I take very seriously."

Board of elections leaders say they're also working to streamline work by putting all offices under one roof. Currently, the board operates out of three buildings, and leaders don't expect to be in a new one until after November.