Voting Rights Legislation

SB 216 – Provisional Ballot Modifications (2013-2014)

Link to Bill:
http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_216
Status:
Enacted
Summary:

Read our letter to Ohio Representative Mike Dovilla addressing how SB 216 may affect provisional ballots.

SB 216 makes modifications to Ohio’s provisional ballot process. The bill reflects recent court decisions requiring ballots be counted that are cast in the correct polling location, but the incorrect precinct, due to poll worker error. Beyond this correction, the bill shifts responsibility to the voter, not the poll worker, to complete all parts of the provisional ballot affirmation form, unless the voter is disabled.

Additionally, SB 216 makes these changes:

  • Removes provisions that allow voters to cast provisional ballots if they are unable or decline to provide the required ID or the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.
  • Alters the provisional ballot affirmation form to now require a voter’s current address and date of birth.
  • Adds language on the provisional ballot that requires a voter to declare that they have lived in the state for the 30 days immediately preceding the election.
  • Decreases from 10 to 7 the amount of days a provisional voter is given to confirm their identity to the Board of Elections.
  • Allows voters who have changed their name to cast a regular ballot, instead of a provisional ballot as in current law, if they are able to provide proof by showing certain legal documents.
Primary Sponsors:
Secondary Sponsors:
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Committee:
State Government Oversight and Reform (S)
LSC Legislation Status:
http://lsc.state.oh.us/coderev/sen130.nsf/Senate+Bill+Number/0216?OpenDocument
Jurisdiction/Legislation Level:
State
Our take on this bill:

While it is commendable that the legislature made court required corrections to now count ballots cast in an incorrect precinct, SB 216 contains a number of concerning requirements that will make provisional voting in Ohio more difficult and potentially confusing.

SB 216 removes the option for voters who lack ID and the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number to execute an affirmation instead. Such provisions could prevent traditionally underserved communities, like the homeless, from having an opportunity to cast their votes effectively.

This bill also decreases the number of reasons that allow for counting or casting of provisional ballots. Voters are now also required to fill out additional fields including their date of birth and current address. These fields must conform to what the election officials have on record in order for their ballots to be counted.

SB 216 is one of several election bills being considered and passed by the Ohio General Assembly at a rapid pace. Most of them include provisions that make the election process more difficult, more confusing and less accessible. The ACLU of Ohio opposes SB 216 and similar bills and will fight to ensure a fair and robust democracy.

Bill Status:

Passed of the Senate State Government Oversight & Reform 11/20/13

Passed the Senate on 11/20/13

Passed out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee on 2/16/14

Passed the House on 2/26/14

Signed by the Governor on 2/28/14