COLUMBUS—Because democracy works best when all voters can participate, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio supports Ohio Senate Bill 63, which will allow the Secretary of State to establish a secure online voter registration system. The organization calls for quick passage by the full Senate and House and subsequent approval by Governor Kasich.
“Online voter registration is convenient, secure, reduces errors and saves money, but most of all it makes registering to vote easier, especially for those with disabilities. One in five people eligible to vote has a disability, and all too often they encounter barriers when registering to vote” explained Mike Brickner, senior policy director of the ACLU of Ohio. “This legislation to modernize Ohio’s voter registration system, which has bipartisan support, is long overdue.”
The bill could be improved even more by making voter registration more accessible to everyone, according to Brickner. For one thing, it’s important to expand the types of ID people can use to register to vote. The legislation as it is now only allows people with driver’s licenses or state-issued identification to register—meaning many low-income people and those with disabilities will be left out. Other states that have enacted online voter registration have allowed alternative forms of identification and still maintained security of their system.
Additionally, the online voter registration system must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, a recent report by the ACLU, “Access Denied: Barriers to Online Voter Registration Systems,” revealed that Ohio’s current voter change of address website failed seven out of nine accessibility categories. This same website would be used by Ohio for full online registration. Not only would a fully accessible online registration system help people with disabilities, it also would benefit seniors, people with limited English proficiency, and people who have difficulty reading.
“These are common-sense solutions to improve the voter registration process and, ultimately, to increase voter participation in elections,” Brickner said. “I am confident that politicians from both parties will set aside their differences and enact these much needed overdue reforms.”