COLUMBUS — State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) launched her campaign for secretary of state Tuesday, the first Democratic candidate to announce in a down-ticket race in next year’s elections.

The Portage County native made her entrance official during a press conference at an inner-city arts and cultural center and polling location, where she said she would fight to ensure eligible minority and other voters have access to Ohio’s polls and work toward improving services for businesses — the two main roles of the office she is seeking.

“… Ohio can and must do more to encourage participation and strengthen our democracy,” Clyde said. “… Instead of making it simpler to vote, our state leaders have made things more difficult, seemingly by the day. I believe people all across Ohio deserve more than what we are getting from our state leaders.”

She added later, “I will ensure registration is simple, you have every opportunity to vote and your vote is counted.”

Clyde is the lone Democrat in the secretary of state’s race during a year when multiple candidates are lining up for next year’s primary.

State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) earlier announced her campaign for secretary of state, and state Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) is seriously considering that race.

A growing number of Republicans and Democrats also have already entered the gubernatorial contest, while two Republicans are running for state treasurer.

Clyde, a Garrettsville native, is serving her fourth term in the Ohio House and cannot seek reelection due to term limits.

She’s a licensed attorney who previously served as an elections official at the Franklin County Board of Elections and deputy legal counsel for former House Speaker Armond Budish.

Clyde has focused part of her efforts in the legislature on elections issues, pushing for reforms that would make it easier for eligible voters to cast ballots.

She was a vocal advocate for online voter registration and has called for automatic registration in Ohio. And she has vocally opposed the purge of voters from the rolls, efforts to require photo IDs to cast ballots and other Republican-backed election law changes enacted in recent years.

“Every since I was elected to the Statehouse in 2010, I’ve been fighting back against attacks on working families, women’s rights and voting rights,” she said. “I’ve seen firsthand when state leaders ignore the voices of so many Ohioans and let political benefit be their only guide.”

Clyde also said her work as an attorney at a Kent firm, where she has helped new small businesses complete their registration and other required documentation, would give her “the right perspective” for improving the secretary of state’s business filings.