Home Politics Online voter registration could soon come to Ohio

Online voter registration could soon come to Ohio

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Ohio voters could be registering online before the 2016 election, if one Ohio Senate bill becomes law.

Senate Bill 63 deals primarily with creating a system for online voter registration and, if passed, would make Ohio the 29th state to implement such a system. Registration would involve the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database verifying personal information, allowing anyone with an Ohio driver’s license or state ID to register remotely.

“It’s convenient for voters, and what that means is that it can help them take that first step of participating in our democracy,” said Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, the bill’s primary sponsor. “Obviously, before you vote, you have to register, and every year we’ve got a new group of people that are turning 18 and should be registering to vote, and yet they don’t register until later in life.”

Although the bill passed in the Senate with only one vote against it, it is not without its critics. Several groups, including the Ohio Christian Alliance and several Tea Party groups across the state have expressed their disapproval for the bill.

“When it comes to the value of the voting process in our Republic, we need to proceed with extreme caution before the suggestion of online voter registration is seriously considered,” wrote representatives of these groups in a letter to legislators on the OCA website. “At a minimum, implementation of any such legislative proposal should be delayed until 2017, and a trial run should be conducted to assure that the security of the website can be verified before full implementation.”

One main concern raised against online voter registration is that it could lead to security issues such as voter fraud, but LaRose said the new online system would actually be safer and more secure than the current paper registration system.

“With paper registration, you fill out the form, you put your handwriting on the form and you fold it up and you mail it to your county Board of Elections,” LaRose said. “And when it arrives there, somebody’s got to open that envelope, spread it out on a desk and start deciphering your handwriting, and if it’s anything like mine and it’s hard to read, it can cause data entry errors. What that results in is people having to vote provisionally.”

LaRose said he has found that many people confuse online voter registration with online voting.

“I think within the course of our lifetimes, we’ll probably eventually see online voting, but the security on that is nowhere near ready for primetime,” LaRose said. “Nobody is seriously suggesting online voting.”

According to LaRose, SB 63 is supported by the League of Women Voters, veteran groups and the Ohio Association of Elections Officials.

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