The Republican secretaries of state in Ohio, West Virginia and Missouri have promoted their states’ elections as fair and secure. Yet each also is navigating a fine line on how to address election fraud conspiracies as they gear up campaigns for U.S. Senate or governor in 2024.
The split-screen messaging of Ohio’s Frank LaRose, West Virginia’s Mac Warner and Missouri’s Jay Ashcroft shows just how deeply election lies have burrowed into the Republican Party, where more than half of voters believe Democrat Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president. Even election officials who tout running clean elections at home are routinely pushing for more voting restrictions and additional scrutiny on the process as they prepare to face GOP primary voters next year.
All three withdrew their states last month from the Electronic Registration Information Center, a bipartisan, multistate effort to ensure accurate voter lists. LaRose did so less than a month after calling the group “one of the best fraud-fighting tools that we have” and vowing to maintain Ohio's membership. He defied backlash against the organization stoked by former President Donald Trump before relenting.
The three also have supported increased voter restrictions in their states — part of a national trend for Republicans that they say is intend to boost public confidence. Those bills impose new voter ID requirements, shrink windows for processing ballots or ease the ability to consolidate voting