HB 41 creates a statewide online voter registration system. Applications submitted through the system will only be considered valid if the voter provides 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.
Also, under Ohio law, an applicant must also meet several criteria in order to register to vote in the next election: 1.) You must be a United States citizen; 2.) You are required to have lived in Ohio at least 30 days before the next election; and 3.) You must be at least 18 years old before the next election.
After applying online, the application is sent to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) so that the application information can be verified. After verifying the information, the application is sent to the secretary of state, who validates and then sends the application to the Board of Elections in the county where the applicant resides. The Board then registers the applicant, or, if the information could not be verified, informs the applicant by e-mail and standard mail of the incomplete application status.
Finally, the signature on file with the BMV serves as the applicant’s signature for all election signature-matching purposes.
LCS Legislation Status
Our Take on This Bill
The ACLU of Ohio supports efforts to ease and expand the voter registration process, including online voter registration. However, HB 41 raises some concerns for voter accessibility and participation.
First, and most important, the online system will disproportionately exclude low-income persons, people of color, persons with disabilities, and the elderly who are more likely not to possess Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles-issued driver’s licenses or identifications.
Unfortunately, the online system is also limited to only voter registration. A previous version of this bill also created an online system for applying to vote by an absent voter’s ballot.
To ensure a fair system for maximum participation, the ACLU of Ohio urges the legislature to amend this bill to include not only alternatives for those who are unable to afford or obtain the ID required in this legislation, but also to include an online system for applying to vote by an absent voter’s ballot.
Introduced on 2/4/15
Referred to the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee on 2/10/15
SB 63, a similar bill requiring the establishment of an online voter registration system, was passed by the House and Senate, and was signed into law by the Governor on June 13, 2016
Government Accountability and Oversight (H)