Commentary

06.29.15

Online Voter Registration on its Way to Reality!

By

Polling Place

The ACLU of Ohio supports online voter registration, especially for the many Ohioans with disabilities, limited incomes, inflexible work or family schedules, or lack of transportation means.

Strong Support Paying Off

Ohio Senate Bill 63 will establish a secure, online voter registration system for the state and was just passed last week by the state Senate. Sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R), the bill was supported by Secretary of State John Husted, as well as the Ohio Association of Election Officials, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and military and veterans organizations.

The vote, 31-1, shows the bipartisan support to modernize Ohio’s voter registration system. We then called for quick passage by the full House and subsequent approval by Governor Kasich.

Online Makes Sense in Every Possible Way

Online voter registration is gaining big momentum because it:

  • Is approved or already in use in 28 states.
  • Allows many more Ohioans to participate in our democracy (as long as they can provide an Ohio driver’s license or a state ID card number).
  • Saves money over in-person and hard-copy mail-in modes of registration. (Sec. Husted’s estimates claim Ohio could have saved between $2.8 and $13.2 million between 2011 and 2014 if we had online registration in place during those five years.)
  • Is faster and more accurate; it cross-validates instantly through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s database.
  • Is quicker and more convenient for voters who wouldn’t have to fill out confusing forms and stand in line to register.

Learn more about making online voter registration accessible, by visiting Online for All.

A Great First Step

However, the legislation could be even better by making it more accessible.  For one thing, expanding the types of ID people can use to register to vote. According to the League of Women Voters of Ohio, 11 percent of voter-age Ohioans would lack a driver’s license or government-issued ID required by the legislation. Other states that have enacted online voter registration have allowed alternative forms of identification and still maintained the security of their system.

The next step would be to make the online system compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by assuring it is accessible by and effective for citizens with disabilities. According to a recent survey by the ACLU, the Ohio Secretary of State’s website failed seven out of nine accessibility categories.

Your Turn Now!

We’re close! But your prompt phone calls or emails to your representative in Columbus―right now―can be the deciding factor in getting his or her vote for this important legislation. It will make registration easier for the young, the able-bodied and the mobile. But it will also bring us closer to the ultimate goal of getting all Ohioans registered to vote, including those with disabilities, heavy time constraints or lack of transportation means.

Fred Ross is a volunteer for the ACLU of Ohio.

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