He thinks Trump won in 2020. Now he wants to oversee the Ohio election

Columbus, Ohio (WCMH) – As John Adams watched the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, in which finalized tallies, audits and investigations confirmed Joe Biden’s victories in key states, he still felt he there were “schemes”.

“It clearly wasn’t legit,” he told NBC4 in a recent phone interview. “You can say stolen; I really don’t care how you put it.

Adams, a former state legislator, acts on this debunked belief. In the May 3 primary election, he’s running for secretary of state — Ohio’s top election official — trying to defeat Republican incumbent Frank LaRose for a once-neglected post that now carries unique weight as refuted voter fraud allegations persist after Donald Trump’s presidency.

A Sidney small-business owner and former Navy SEAL, Adams, 62, served in the Ohio House from 2007 to 2014. His fundamental view that Trump’s “election was stolen” stands however in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. .

The US Agency for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure said after the elections, “There is no evidence that any voting system has removed or lost votes, changed votes, or been compromised in any way.” Adams rejects that: “I don’t care what department he’s from,” he said, because “voters don’t trust their electoral process right now.”

The Trump campaign and its allies, however, have lost more than 60 lawsuits challenging election processes, including in swing states Adams named like Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. But to those court failures, he said the plaintiffs “were never able to present the evidence.”

For voting experts, Adams’ candidacy signals a nationally coordinated effort to undermine the election, as people mistakenly believe the 2020 election was stolen are running for office themselves.

“In two out of three races for governor and secretary of state across the country right now, there’s a running mate,” Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, told NBC4 in a statement. .

His nonpartisan watchdog group is monitoring The 2020 election deniers are running in 2022. Adams is one of 23 candidates for Secretary of State in 19 states who denied Biden’s victory, States United Action found.

Overseeing elections is the most notable job of the Ohio Secretary of State to have to, as well as business registration and other functions. He or she oversees election laws, investigates fraud, reviews statewide petitions, appoints county council members, casts votes, trains election officials, and oversees campaign finance.

“[Secretaries of state] make sure our votes are counted and the will of the American people is respected,” Lydgate said. “People who don’t believe in our elections shouldn’t be responsible for them.”

Major challenges for the secretary of state, especially against the incumbents, are rare.

LaRose, 42, and former state Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) ran unopposed in 2018 for an open seat, and the last party to have a contested secretary of state primary were Republicans in 2010. Then, however, a Democrat was the incumbent.

The last time Ohio’s incumbent election leader faced a major challenge was in 1948, when Republican Secretary of State Edward Hummel pushed back against Ted Brown.

Adams wants to “tighten up our election laws,” he said. This includes eliminating early voting (every three to four weeks); requiring a reason for mail-in ballots (such as hospitalization or being out of town); get rid of ballot boxes; and requiring specific state-issued ID to vote.

Residents of Ohio can currently prove their identity with one of the six documents.

Adams also wants an in-person canvassing of Ohio’s registered voters — about 8 million people — to completely erase deceased and former residents from voter rolls, which he says would be “time consuming and costly.”

“Who actually lives there? Who actually votes in these places? ” he said.

These proposals contrast with what LaRose said contributed to “the most successful election in our state’s history” by a recent interview with NBC4’s Colleen Marshall. He mentioned a record number of ballots cast in 2020, a record of mail-in votes and a record of early votes.

“It’s unfortunate that right-wing politicians claim there is widespread voter fraud when in fact there isn’t,” LaRose said. “It is also unfortunate that leftist politicians claim widespread voter suppression when in fact that is not true either. The bottom line is this: we make voting easy and hard to cheat. »

Along with failed court efforts to overturn the last presidential election, Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state in a January 2021 phone call to “find 11,780 voteswhich would give him victory.

When asked what he would do if Trump lost Ohio in 2024 and urged him to step in as secretary of state, Adams said, “I have two years to put processes in place. elections that I think will prevent and help that we don’t have to. take this road.

Trump won Ohio in 2016 and 2020 by more than 8 percentage points in each election.

Adams cited several refuted claims from the 2020 election during an interview with NBC4, but the last relevant allegation he mentioned and promoted on social media was ballot trafficking.

Pushed by conservative political commentators like Charlie Kirk, Dinesh D’Souza and The Gateway Pundit, a group called true the vote says the cellphone tracking data they collected shows a ring of people nefariously depositing mail-in ballots in five key states that Biden won.

That includes 138 people, they claim, commuting to the ballots in Wisconsin, where Biden beat Trump by 20,682 votes.

But although True The Vote alleged that these people were improperly collecting, distributing and submitting mail-in ballots, the group’s founder told Wisconsin lawmakers last month that “we are not suggesting that the ballots that were cast were illegal ballots”.

True The Vote also refused to make its data available to lawmakers, so the research could not be independently verified.

“Data allegedly showing cell phones that were tracked multiple times near mail-in ballot boxes is, on its own, not evidence of a crime,” the Wisconsin Elections Commission said in a statement.

Systematic electoral fraud in all its forms has always been rare.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, tracks voter fraud in every state. But group lists only 1,353 “proven cases” since 2000 out of hundreds of millions of votes cast. LaRose’s office found only 27 ballots from Ohio who were potentially cast illegally in the 2020 general election, only 0.0005% of nearly 6 million candidates statewide.

“The people of Ohio knew it was honest,” LaRose said of the 2020 election. “And whether your favorite candidate won or lost, you can look at this and say Ohio just won. an honest election.”

Adams said he believed LaRose was not looking for fraud enough and would impose harsher penalties if elected.

“People have to go to jail,” he said. “When people start going to jail, this stuff will stop.”

At least 53 people, however, have been convicted of voter fraud in Ohio since 2000, according to the Heritage Foundation. One such conviction occurred under LaRose, in which a Delaware County man pleaded three days in jail and a fine for illegally submitting a mail-in ballot in the name of his deceased father.

There has been no independent poll on the race for secretary of state, but name recognition and campaign donations strongly favor LaRose, one of the most visible state officials this year as the ‘Ohio is trudging along. redistricting.

The first campaign finance reports for 2022 aren’t due until Thursday, but records show LaRose outscored Adams by $887,000 to $55,000 last year, a 16-to-1 margin.

The Ohio Republican Party also endorsed LaRose over Adams. Both candidates supported Trump in the 2020 election.

More than 6 in 10 likely Ohio GOP voters say an endorsement from Trump would make them more likely to vote for this candidate, in February Emerson College Poll commissioned by NBC4.

A third Republican candidate for Secretary of State, podcaster Terpsichore Maras, who also alleged that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, did not get enough signatures to appear on the ballot, so there will only be Adams and LaRose on GOP tickets.

On the Democratic side, a Cincinnati-area businesswoman Chelsea Clark runs unopposed to face the Republican winner in November. Clark has been a city councilor in Forest Park (population 19,000) since 2017.

His policy proposals include automatic voter registration, expanding early voting, allowing online voter registration and stopping voter list purges.

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