As of January 2017, Ohio offers online voter registration. Visit www.voteohio.gov to register to vote online. But there are still improvements needed to ensure voter registration is accessible to all.
One in Five People Eligible to Vote Has a Disability.
Democracy works best when all voters can participate. As Americans, it’s our right and responsibility. However, this requires that voting be accessible to everyone.
All too often, people with disabilities encounter barriers during the voting process. So much so, they have less voter turnout than those without disabilities. Voters most likely to experience challenges include those with limited mobility, visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and learning disabilities.
Online Voter Registration Makes Sense
All across the country, there’s a growing consensus on the many advantages of online voter registration. It’s convenient, saves money and is supported by people across the political spectrum. Online voter registration can especially help people with disabilities access the election system and exercise their right to vote.
It’s also the law. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all state and local government entities to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to government programs and services.
For many, online registration would allow voters to register securely without the need for time-consuming and burdensome trips to the bureau of motor vehicles and the board of elections or to send an application through the U.S. mail. With web accessibility, many more people with disabilities would be able to register to vote.
An accessible voter registration system would also benefit:
- People with limited English proficiency.
- People with limited literacy.
The ACLU has issued “Access Denied: Barriers to Online Voter Registration Systems.” The report discusses what makes online voter registration systems accessible for people with disabilities then evaluated 20 states current online registration system.
The bad news is that only one state, California, is fully accessible. Whereas, Ohio’s limited registration site failed seven out of nine accessibility categories.
About one in 10 potential voters needs an accessible website. A website that is well designed for people with disabilities will be easier to use for everyone.
Cost Effective, Accurate, Secure
Our state government must demolish the barriers to vote for people with disabilities by modernizing Ohio’s voter registration system.
Read the ACLU’s case study of how California and Arizona saved money by implementing a full voter registration system.
- Online registration saves money. The Ohio Secretary of State estimates costs savings for county boards of elections between 50 cents and $1 per registration. If Ohio had online voter registration between 2010 and 2012, county boards of elections collectively would have seen a $1.5 million to $3 million in savings over those two years in which they registered approximately 3 million paper registration forms.
- Online registration reduces errors. Voters enter their own information rather than relying on election officials to decipher illegible handwriting and incomplete information.
- Online registration bolsters election integrity. Automatic cross-checking with other state databases ensures that online voter registration is more secure than the current paper-based system.