Commentary

09.30.15

Last Chance to Register for November’s Election

By

Robert Harris

Ohio’s voter registration deadline is Monday, October 5—only a few days away. For those not registered to vote that’s a short amount of time to download, complete, and mail the registration application or go to a board of elections or BMV to register.

That’s Too Late for Many People with Disabilities

Despite voter registration drives, many Ohioans will remain unregistered, particularly those with disabilities. For example, about 900,000 Ohioans have mobility issues that seriously impede their reaching a board of elections or BMV to register. Add the working poor who can’t spare time off to register, those without computers or cars, and Ohioans who have hearing or sight issues.

Register to vote by October 5. Check out our “Three-Step Guide to Voting” to learn what you need to know.

How about others who don’t have an Ohio driver’s license, state-issued ID, or don’t remember their Social Security number—the sole documents in Ohio to verify a registrant’s application?

“I don’t think [the] system where you have to have a driver’s license or a state ID is fair,” said Richard Chapman of Cleveland. “There are so many people that just don’t have them, and the reason they don’t have them is because there are so many obstacles to getting them!”

Leading the Way

Robert Harris, a Cincinnati pastor, has spent more than 65 years advocating for civil rights and the rights of people with disabilities and low-income people. He’s been a leader for the Cincinnati Human Rights Commission, Bridges for a Just Community, the Cincinnati Coalition for People with Disabilities, the Hamilton County Development Disabilities Services Board, and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission.

A wheelchair user since childhood, Harris is an inductee into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame. He said, “If we love this country, and believe in democracy, and believe the way we get participation in this country is through voting, then we have to make it easier for people to vote.”

Online For All on flag print

Online for All: Ensuring the Solution for Future Elections

The Ohio Senate passed legislation in June to create an easy, effective, online voter registration system, making it easier for people with disabilities to register and participate in our democracy. The Ohio House is considering it now.

When signed into law, it’ll be too late for the November 2015 general election. But we hope our representatives will speedily pass this important bill. Then Ohio can join 28 other states affording an online path to voter registration for future elections, thus responding to millions of Ohioans’ real needs and conforming to both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help America Vote Act.

Take a Moment to Help

Contact your legislator and make him or her aware you support passage of the Senate Bill 63, as well as significant broadening of the kinds of acceptable validating documentation.

For information about the ACLU of Ohio initiative to implement online voter registration in Ohio, check out Online for All.

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