Frank LaRose says it’s another step toward increasing Ohioans’ faith in the election system.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s GOP chief announced Wednesday the creation of a new public integrity unit in response to what he called a “crisis of trust” among Americans in the election process, even as he acknowledged the state’s reputation as a safe voter.

The unit, which takes effect next week, will consolidate and separate the investigative work of the Ohio secretary of state and eventually have one or more special investigators, Secretary of State Frank LaRose the statement said. However, these investigations will not begin until after the general election.

He referred to the strengthening of the national trend, “which indicates a crisis of confidence in the electoral process.”

This crisis is largely a concern of Republican voters and stems from former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud in the campaign that Joe Biden won.

Numerous federal and local election officials in both parties, a long list of judges, top former campaign staffers and even Trump’s attorney general have all said there is no evidence of the election fraud alleged by the former president.

For his part, LaRose initially said the 2020 election was safe and secure, but as last spring’s primary, which LaRose won by defeating a 2020 skeptic, approached, he began echoing some of Trump’s points.

LaRose argued other states have problems and touted his office’s work to combat voter fraud. Trump endorsed LaRose, a longtime supporter of his.

LaRose said his new unit will help his office do more efficiently and thoroughly the work it already does, such as certifying voting systems and investigating election violations, including a task force dedicated to investigating rare cases of voter fraud or suppression and campaign finance violations. , said LaRose, who is seeking a second term in November.

“Our elections are being monitored like never before, and any lack of absolute confidence in the accuracy and integrity of these elections weakens the very foundation of our democracy,” LaRose said in a statement.

He also cited Ohio’s “strong national reputation for safe, accurate and accessible elections.”

LaRose’s announcement followed a decision in Florida in which lawmakers and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis created a police force tasked with investigating voter fraud and other election crimes.

Democrats called LaRose’s news a waste of taxpayer dollars intended to support his political aspirations. LaRose’s name is often mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2024 US Senate.

LaRose found only one case of possible illegal voting earlier this year, party spokesman Matt Case said, making the new office “a taxpayer-funded solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Chelsea Clarke, LaRose’s Democratic opponent, questioned the timing of the announcement. She also noted LaRose’s efforts to keep her other opponent, independent candidate Terpeshor Maras, off the ballot. Clark called LaRose “a history of the politicization of these investigations to punish opponents.”

Maras is a conservative podcaster who supports Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Last month, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled her eligible to run for Ohio secretary of state this fall.

In August, LaRose’s office upheld a judge’s ruling that a number of Maras’ petition signatures were invalid and invalidated her candidacy, a move that was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Maras said Wednesday that she would comment on LaRose’s statement later that day.