SB 238 – Early Voting Reductions (2013-2014)
Link to Bill:http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_238
SB 238 shortens the early, in-person voting period by eliminating the week-long window where voters may simultaneously register to vote and cast an early in-person ballot (otherwise known as “Golden Week”)
Primary Sponsors:Sen. LaRose (R)
Secondary Sponsors:Sen. Burke (R), Sen. Coley (R), Sen. Eklund (R), Sen. Jordan (R), Sen. Lehner (R), Sen. Schaffer (R), Sen. Seitz (R), Sen. Widener (R)
Committee:Policy and Legislative Oversight (H), State Government Oversight and Reform (S)
LSC Legislation Status:http://lsc.state.oh.us/coderev/sen130.nsf/Senate+Bill+Number/0238?OpenDocument
Our take on this bill:
SB 238 moves Ohio election administration in the wrong direction. Eliminating “Golden Week” and shortening the early voting period will needlessly complicate the voting process and place additional burdens on voters. Voters with disabilities, seniors, the homeless, new Ohio residents, people with a lack of transportation, and others such as parents and/or the working poor, among many others, have utilized Golden Week as a flexible way to register and vote simultaneously.
While the bill’s sponsors may point to concerns over possible voting irregularities, there is almost no evidence to justify those fears. Rather than seeking to curtail the ability of voters to cast their ballot more easily, Ohio’s legislators should strive to be leaders in the country by providing a fair, flexible and secure system that benefits all voters.
SB 238 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 238 and similar bills and will fight to ensure a fair and robust democracy.
Passed out of the Senate State Government Oversight & Reform Committee on 11/20/13
Passed the Senate 11/20/13
Testimony in the Senate State Government Oversight & Reform Committee on 11/19/13
Testimony in the House Policy & Legislative Oversight Committee on 12/4/13
Passed out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee on 2/12/14
Passed the House on 2/19/14
Signed by the Governor on 2/21/14