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Ohio Secretary Of State Calls Trump's Rigged Election Claims 'Irresponsible'


We're going to hear now from Ohio Secretary of State John Husted. He is a Republican, and he has called Trump's talk of a rigged election irresponsible. His office oversees elections in the state of Ohio. And Secretary of State John Husted is with us now. Welcome.

JOHN HUSTED: Great to be with you.

MCEVERS: So let me just ask you this outright. Should voters worry about a rigged election?

HUSTED: No, they should not. America's and Ohio's election system is as secure as it's ever been. And people should have confidence in it. And I hope all the presidential candidates and political parties will help us build confidence.

MCEVERS: So Donald Trump has tweeted that there is large-scale voting fraud happening on and before Election Day. Is there evidence of that in your state?

HUSTED: There is not evidence of any of that. In Ohio, we pride ourselves in making our state a place where it's easy to vote and hard to cheat. I want to reassure Donald Trump as a Republican that this is not happening across the country. He may have heard reports of it, but we need facts. And right now, there are no facts that support his claims.

MCEVERS: Have there been any cases of fraud in your state?

HUSTED: Well, of course there've been cases of fraud. There are always occasions where people try to break the rules in everything. And elections are no exception to that. Most times, we catch the people that are trying to commit the fraud before they're actually able to cast a ballot that gets counted. It's rare. We hold people accountable. But there's no evidence of any systemic fraud, which is essentially what's being suggested.

MCEVERS: How are votes counted in Ohio?

HUSTED: Votes are counted in Ohio on a bipartisan basis in an open public meeting where the media's allowed to be present. Public viewing is allowed of this process. Democrats and Republicans are both in the room when the votes are counted. It's actually one place where Democrats and Republicans work very well in our state. They all care about democracy, that's what they give their lives to.

MCEVERS: Donald Trump has been recruiting poll watchers at his rallies and on social media. Are you worried about, you know, waves of people who are suspicious of voter fraud showing up at polling stations this Election Day?

HUSTED: No, we welcome observers and poll watchers. We want that to happen because once you see the safeguards in place, that in the end will build confidence in the system.

MCEVERS: What are the rules for poll watchers?

HUSTED: We have a process where we train them. And you have to get that training before you go out there. The rules are very well laid out. You can't intervene. You can only alert people to problems. You cannot actually put yourself in the process of controlling how that works. But you monitor it. You can report it.

And then we're there to respond to it as elections officials if you see something that you want to call into question.

MCEVERS: When you hear Donald Trump making claims that this election will be rigged, how do you react? What do you think?

HUSTED: I just wish he wouldn't do it because he had a chance at one point in the campaign to appeal to people as an outsider, to help give them hope that America could be a better place. And I still hope that he will do that. But when you talk about rigged elections, you are preying on people's fears, you're making people even more skeptical about establishment figures and processes that they don't trust.

And that undermines what I believe is our elections process and the greatest democracy in the world. And he shouldn't do that. He should help to build hope, not make people less hopeful.

MCEVERS: All that said, you are planning to vote for Donald Trump. Is that right?

HUSTED: That's correct. I'm a person that cares a lot about who the Supreme Court nominees are. I'm a Second Amendment supporter. I believe that the kind of people that he will appoint to positions in government more represent my point of view of the world. But I'm left without very good choices, in my opinion. I don't really think much of Hillary Clinton's conduct in office. I don't think very much of Donald Trump's conduct in this campaign.

I just call him as I see him. I think when our candidates do things that are wrong, we should call them out on that whether we intend to vote for them or not.

MCEVERS: That was Ohio Secretary of State John Husted. Thank you so much.

HUSTED: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.