After years of inaction, lawmakers are getting closer to having Ohio join most other states in allowing people to register to vote online, saving government money. “Online registration can boost participation while improving efficiency, ensuring accuracy and preventing fraud at the same time. It’s a classic win-win,” Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, told a House committee on Tuesday. The bill, which the Senate passed 31-1 in June, expands the current system that allows voters to update their home addresses online — a system that Ohioans have used 295,000 times since August 2012. Secretary of State Jon Husted has argued for years that online voter registration would be more secure, convenient and accurate in addition to being less expensive than current paper registrations. The bill is backed by county elections officials, county commissioners and veterans groups.
Husted urged the House to move the bill by the end of February to ensure that his office has enough time to get the system up and running, and that voters have enough time to use it before the presidential election. A bill signed into law in late February wouldn’t take effect until the start of June, and voter registration for the Nov.8 election ends on Oct.11.
“There is no reason this shouldn’t be completed and out of the legislature by the end of February,” Husted said. “I don’t want them to wait until the last minute.”
But Republican legislators, particularly in the House, have been slow to move on the bill. Some Democrats have argued that the reason is concern that online registration will lead to an increase in registrations by those who lean Democratic, such as college students.