SB 63 – Online Voter Registration System (2015-2016)
Link to Bill:https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-SB-63
SB 63 requires the Secretary of State to establish a secure statewide online voter registration system. Applications submitted through the system will only be considered valid if the voter uses the last four digits of their social security number and either their Ohio driver’s license number or Ohio identification card number as proof of their identity. A voter is also required to confirm several facts to ensure eligibility to vote under Ohio law. These facts include: 1.) You are a United States citizen, 2.) You will have lived in Ohio at least 30 days before the next election, 3.) You will be at least 18 years old before the next election.
As a substitute for an actual signature, the Secretary of State must then obtain an electronic copy of their signature that is on file with the bureau of motor vehicles. This electronic signature must be used as their signature on voter registration records, for all election and signature-matching purposes.
Primary Sponsors:Sen. LaRose (R)
Secondary Sponsors:Sen. Brown (D), Sen. Gardner (R), Sen. Hite (R), Sen. Hottinger (R), Sen. Jones (R), Sen. Lehner (R), Sen. Skindell (D), Sen. Tavares (D)
Committee:Government Oversight and Reform (S)
LSC Legislation Status:https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA131-SB-63
Our take on this bill:
The ACLU of Ohio supports efforts to ease and expand the voter registration process, including online voter registration. However, SB 63 raises some concerns for voter accessibility and participation.
First, and most important, the online system will disproportionately exclude low-income persons, people of color, persons with disabilities, and the elderly who are more likely not to possess Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles-issued driver’s licenses or identifications.
The online system will also lack any process for notifying a voter that their application is inaccurate or incomplete so that they may change or add the necessary information.
Finally, the online system is limited to only voter registration. A previous version of this bill also created an online system for applying to vote by an absent voter’s ballot.
To ensure a fair system for maximum participation, the ACLU of Ohio urges the legislature to amend this bill to include not only alternatives for those who are unable to afford or obtain the ID required in this legislation, but also to include an online system for applying to vote by an absent voter’s ballot.