SB 175 – Online Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request System (2013-2014)
Link to Bill:http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_175
SB 175 requires the Secretary of State to establish a secure statewide online voter registration and absentee ballot request system. Applications submitted through the system for either type 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. 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.
The bill also makes changes to the general voter registration process and purging deceased voters from the system. These technical changes increase uniformity for certain Board of Elections procedures, clarify the responsibilities of state agencies and the Secretary of State, and spell out security and privacy protections.
Primary Sponsors:Sen. LaRose (R)
Secondary Sponsors:Sen. Jones (R), Sen. Lehner (R), Sen. Seitz (R)
LSC Legislation Status:http://lsc.state.oh.us/coderev/sen130.nsf/Senate+Bill+Number/0175?OpenDocument
Our take on this bill:
The ACLU of Ohio supports efforts to ease and expand the voter registration and absentee ballot request process. SB 175 provides much needed uniformity for Ohio’s voter registration process and addresses important security and confidentially issues that could arise with electronic systems.
However, SB 175 raises some serious concerns for voter accessibility. First, these online systems will disproportionately exclude low-income persons, minorities, persons with disabilities, and the elderly who may not possess Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles-issued driver’s licenses or identifications.
To ensure a fair system for maximum participation, the ACLU of Ohio urges the legislature to amend this bill to include alternatives for those who are unable to afford or obtain the ID required in this legislation.