Ohioans would be automatically registered to vote when renewing their driver’s license, signing up for public assistance or turning 18, under a bill introduced in the Ohio House. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Kent Democrat, said voter registration should be easy and that automatically enrolling people would encourage higher voter participation. “There are endless ways to use voter registration rules to deter and confuse voters, and we need to take away this weapon of voter oppression,” Clyde said during a Thursday press conference. Under House Bill 14, people would be automatically registered to vote if they’ve received veterans’ or disability services or public assistance through the Department of Job and Family Services and when they get a driver’s license or state ID card. Public and private school students would be registered when they turn 18.
Voters can already choose to “opt-in” and register to vote at state agencies. Clyde’s bill would instead require voters to opt-out.
After registration, a voter would be “pending” for 21 days. During that time, the voter will be notified he or she has been registered and allowed to opt-out in-person or by mail.
Oregon is the only state to have a similar system. Five other states, including neighboring West Virginia, and the District of Columbia have recently passed automatic registration legislation.