Ohioans would have less time to vote absentee and early, and counties would be barred from mass-mailing applications for ballots to registered voters under a bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday.
Senate Bill 148, passed strictly with Republican support, seeks to reduce the number of last-resort provisional ballots cast on Election Day and sets statewide standards for when they will and won’t be counted. The bill would let voters for the first time register and update their addresses on the Internet.
“According to an informal survey of Ohio’s county boards of elections, over half of the provisional ballots cast in the last general election were due to a voter moving or changing their name without notifying their board of elections prior to election day,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills). The bill will now vie for supremacy with the vision of election reform that the House passed last week.
Both bills drew allegations that the measures were designed to undercut the vote in urban areas where Democrats have stronger support, among them a provision clarifying that a vote cast at the right polling place but at the wrong table within that polling place will not count.
“The fact that there have been so many reductions of polling places throughout the state and a voter may be in the right location but at the wrong precinct, the notion that a citizen’s vote would not be counted is ridiculous,” Sen. Nina Turner (D., Cleveland) said.