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Rep. Miranda, House Democrats release General Election proposal

Propose to mail ballots to all registered voters, implement safeguards for in-person voting, expand voter registration
May 18, 2020
Jessica E. Miranda News

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) joined House Democrats to release their proposal for holding a safe and accessible presidential election this November amid the worst global pandemic in more than a century. Highlights of the plan include mailing a ballot with prepaid return postage to every voter, extending the ballot postmark date to Election Day, enhancing safety for in-person voting and expanding voter registration.

Rep. Miranda issued the following statement on the Democratic proposal:

“The time to take action on ensuring the upcoming election is fair and safe is now. As we saw with this primary election, delayed action from the House of Representatives jeopardizes our election process and casts doubt among the electorate. The proposal put forth by the Democratic caucus contains a wide assortment of vital steps the legislature can take to protect every Ohioan’s right to vote.”

Democrats received input from voting rights advocates; civil rights, labor and community organizations; bipartisan election officials; local elected officials; and the secretary of state. They plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks based on these discussions to protect voters’ fundamental freedoms during the general election.

The bill will address many of the issues that have been raised by stakeholders, including:

  • Expanding access to online voter registration to allow voters to provide either SSN4 or driver’s license/state ID number, not both, on the online form. Voter registration opportunities have been greatly reduced by BMV closures.
  • Implementing a comprehensive voter education campaign using trusted messengers on social media, TV, radio and newspaper advertising.
  • Protecting in-person voting by offering multiple Early Vote locations in medium in large counties and limiting precinct consolidation on Election Day.
  • Increasing safety protocols, like physical distancing and sanitization at all in-person voting locations.
  • Expanding vote-by-mail by automatically sending a ballot to every registered voter, return postage prepaid.
  • Counting ballots postmarked by Election Day. Current law requires postmarking by the day before the election which is a source of great confusion and misinformation.
  • Allowing counties to have multiple secure drop-boxes in the community where voters can drop off their mail ballots in person.
  • Extending provisional ballot and absentee ballot error correction period from 7 days to 7 business days and eliminating technical reasons to reject ballots such as transposed digits, providing the current year instead of birth year, tearing off a perforated stub from a ballot, and other insignificant errors.
  • Providing funds as needed for mail sorters, letter openers, ballot scanners, etc.
  • Codifying requirement that county boards maintain updated Election Administration Plans with emergency and contingency provisions.

In addition, Democrats noted that the secretary of state has the ability to make needed improvements for the upcoming elections without changes in law, including:

  • Expanding Ohio’s NVRA “Motor Voter” voter registration agencies to include the unemployment office.
  • Reinstating purged voters who still live in Ohio.
  • Implementing Automatic Voter Registration administratively like other states have, giving people the ability to opt out.

Democrats said they will continue working with stakeholders as they draft their bill and prepare it for introduction.