Ohio’s Voting Record: Ready to Strike Out or Hit a Grand Slam?
By Fred Ross
It’s indisputable that voting is critical for Ohioans.
We strive to make our communities a better place to live and to ensure that our democracy works for everyone. However, to do this, all our votes are crucial—for Ohio and the entire nation.
Solid Base Hits
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted knows how important voting is. I applaud his support for online voter registration. It can reduce errors, increase election integrity and save Ohio money. He estimated up to $3 million could have been saved by Ohio boards of election if the 3 million people who registered on paper between 2010 and 2012 instead had done so online.
Likewise, Secretary Husted scores a solid base hit for requesting the addition of $1.2 million to the state budget to mail Ohio voters absentee ballot applications. This would get around the law forbidding mailing unsolicited absentee ballot requests by county boards of elections. Previously, Husted paid for the mailing with federal funding. More than 860,000 such ballots were cast in the 2014 Ohio general election, which was up slightly from 2010.
Here are five ways Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted could help millions of Ohioans in need and make his mark as a real voting rights champion.
Turning Base Hits into Grand Slam Homers
The secretary of state is in a great position to help Ohioans get their voices heard. I believe he can score homers and grand slams by:
- Working to increase accessibility to Ohio’s online registration for people with disabilities. These individuals account for about 20 percent of people eligible to vote. Ohio’s existing voter registration website is not accessible, according to a new ACLU report that evaluated the online registration systems of 20 states.
- Changing current online voter registration legislation that only allows people with driver’s licenses or state IDs to use it—meaning many low-income people and people with disabilities will be left out if enacted. Allowing additional forms of ID will allow more people to participate in our election system.
- Fighting for the restoration of early voting opportunities passed by the General Assembly in 2014. In 2012, 157,000 Ohioans voted during these now-eliminated days—a lot of voters to alienate.
- Advocating for the reinstatement of evening and Sunday voting hours when working Ohioans are able to vote —people who can’t leave work during the day.
- Supporting Election Day registration. The number of Ohioans voting dropped 22 percent between the 2010 and 2014 midterms. Ohio ranked 34th in turnout in 2014 in terms of percentage of voters casting ballots, compared with 19th in the 2012 presidential election. One good reason is lack of Election Day registration, which allow individuals to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day. Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted the reform.
Punish Four or Help Millions?
It seems Secretary Husted could better serve Ohio’s disadvantaged and disenfranchised by attending to these matters rather than focusing on a crusade to find just a few dozen people who supposedly registered and voted illegally—.0002 percent of Ohio’s 7.7 million registered voters, only four of whom received convictions.
Let’s see, would we rather see our elected officials save us from four souls or help millions of fellow Ohioans access or preserve their voting rights?
That’s a no brainer!