Voting Rights Press Release

11.19.13

ACLU Opposes Ohio Legislation Cutting Early Voting Days and Eliminating Same Day Registration for Early Voters

SB 238 Takes Ohio Election Rules in the Wrong Direction

Read our November 19, 2013 testimony before the Ohio Senate State Government Oversight & Reform Committee in opposition to SB 238

UPDATE: Ohio Voters Gain Greater Access to Ballot in ACLU Settlement

COLUMBUS – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio will testify before the Ohio Senate State Government Oversight & Reform Committee in opposition to Senate Bill 238, a bill that reduces the early voting period from 35 to 29 days and takes away the five-day window of time during which Ohio voters may simultaneously register to vote and cast an early in-person ballot.

“The five-day window offers major benefits to many voters, including those with disabilities or inflexible work schedules, and there is little evidence that it has created any major problems,” said ACLU of Ohio Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner. “SB 238 throws away these critical, nonpartisan benefits for no good reason.”

In Ohio, the five-day window has been in place for nearly seven years with great success. The state uses a robust system to ensure that all voters are properly vetted, including voters who register and cast ballots simultaneously. As a result, voting irregularities are very rare in this state, and the few problems that have occurred have been rapidly identified, documented, and dealt with by elections officials.

Other states have also examined this issue. They have found that allowing voters to register and cast ballots on the same day provides substantial benefits with very few risks. In fact, ten states (and the District of Columbia) allow voters to register and cast a ballot simultaneously on Election Day.

“Many states have used same day voter registration for decades, and they have experienced an increase in turnout while maintaining secure elections,” said Brickner. “If anything, elections are more secure than ever thanks to new technological innovations like electronic poll books.”

“Ohio should be following the examples of these other states instead of moving backwards,” added Brickner. “We can encourage participation while ensuring security by being as flexible and convenient as possible for voters.”