DeWine, Husted: Don’t sweat election lawsuits, count every ballot

Montgomery County Board of Elections staff sort provisional ballots on Tuesday night. Josh Sweigart/Staff
Montgomery County Board of Elections staff sort provisional ballots on Tuesday night. Josh Sweigart/Staff

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Thursday the courts are part of a strong American election system and Ohioans should not be overly concerned by lawsuits filed by a presidential campaign.

Speaking Thursday at Impact Ohio’s virtual post-election conference, two of the state’s top elected Republican officials took this stance as President Donald Trump launches a legal battle alleging fraud and requesting recounts in several states he is behind in.

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“Every presidential election … every side is lawyered up,” DeWine said. “Lawsuits generally get filed. I don’t think any of that should bother us. I think we should be dedicated to counting every vote, we should be dedicated to following the rule of law.”

DeWine and Husted spoke on a variety of topics Thursday. The keynote address was an interview of DeWine by Dr. Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Both officials during their talks said Ohio has moved further right of center and DeWine said that Ohio was less of a bellwether during this election than it previously has been. Trump won Ohio on Tuesday.

Ohioans voted for President Donald Trump, DeWine said, because they feel Trump is “fighting for them.”

“As I talked to people around the state, people who voted for the president, there’s a feeling that he has their back,” he said. “There’s a feeling he’s a fighter … And it kind of strikes me that Ohioans have always had an inclination to vote for people that they believe were fighting for them. And that really has cut across ideological grounds."

While Ohio has become a center-right state, DeWine said, a Democrat can still win in Ohio if it’s the right candidate and the right circumstances. As an example, he pointed to Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has handily won every Senate election since he first ousted DeWine from the seat in 2006.

DeWine said "we’re as polarized as we’ve ever been,” but it is his job to find common ground and there are examples of both parties working together in Ohio.

DeWine emphasized that now the election is over, Ohioans need to pull together to face a common enemy: the COVID-19 virus.

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Ohio has been consistently moving right in recent years, Husted said.

“There’s a good reason Trump won Ohio by eight (points) twice now,” he said. “I would call Ohio a red state, at least leans strongly red.”

Husted said this election in Ohio has proven some “conventional wisdom" to be false. It is a myth that party affiliation drives the Ohio Supreme Court election, he said. Republican candidate Sharon Kennedy won reelection to the court by 10 points this election while Democratic candidate Jennifer Brunner bested a Republican incumbent by 10 points.

“Another (myth is) that somehow high turnout is bad for Republicans and good for Democrats,” he said. “This was the highest voter turnout perhaps ever and Republican soundly won (in Ohio) … I think that high turnout favors the party that has the momentum.”

Also at the conference, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose spoke in a pre-taped video about Ohio’s successful election.

“Months ago, on the dry erase board in my chief of staff’s office, I wrote, ‘On Nov. 4, the world will know and believe the results of Ohio’s election’ and that’s exactly what we did,” he said. “When the world was watching, Ohio ran a fair and accessible and an honest election.”

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