State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) sent a letter today to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging him to implement online voter registration without further delay and to support House Bill 181 to provide automatic voter registration for any Ohioan who wants it.
Ohio’s online registration system is already built and in place, but it only accepts registration updates, not new registrations. Treating new voter registrations differently than voter registration updates is not authorized in Ohio law, which contains only one set of requirements for both new registrations and registration updates. Rep. Clyde urged this same action 18 months ago at the end of 2013. In that time, the number of states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow online registration has risen to 27.
See the letter below:
June 10, 2015
Secretary of State Jon Husted
180 E. Broad Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Secretary Husted,
I write to urge you to switch on full online voter registration for all Ohioans. While bills are yet again pending in the legislature to codify online registration, your office is already authorized to implement full online voter registration under current laws. I urge you to do so without further delay and without waiting for legislative action that may never come. The real legislative action that is needed is adoption of Automatic Voter Registration, House Bill 181, for any Ohioan who wants it.
There is only one set of requirements in Ohio law that governs both new registrations and voter registration updates. There is no separation between the legal requirements for one versus the other. The very same voter registration law that enables your online registration update system also enables full online voter registration. See Ohio Revised Code 3503.14, 3503.16, and 3503.19.
Online registration would undoubtedly encourage more people to register for the first time and participate in elections. I urge you to switch on full online voter registration as soon as possible so that any difficulties with the larger influx of users may be worked out well in advance of the next major election. The many benefits of switching on full online voter registration will include:
Immediate cost savings to your office and the boards of elections. The most cited example of a county’s cost savings is Maricopa County in Arizona where processing costs went from 83 cents per paper registration to 3 cents per online registration. Examples of savings in other states abound.
Immediate easier access to voting for millions of Ohioans. More and more, people do not have convenient access to a printer because they rarely need one or just cannot afford one. There is no reason to require paper forms in order to be eligible to vote.
Since online voter registration is already permitted by Ohio law, there is no reason to wait to make it available to all Ohioans. While the Ohio legislature has done nothing to move online registration forward, more than half of states have implemented or enacted it. Ohio should have been a leader on this issue, but it is not too late to switch it on. Ohio can still be a leader in modernizing voting by enacting Automatic Voter Registration for any Ohioan who wants it and I urge you to support H.B. 181.
Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters.