The ability to register to vote online won’t be available to Ohio voters until next year, after House Republicans altered a bill that supporters hoped would provide the option immediately. Secretary of State Jon Husted, a key supporter of the bill, would operate the online registration system and has said repeatedly that his office is ready to implement it now, as soon as lawmakers pass the bill. But with a presidential race in November, House Republicans decided to wait until 2017 before giving Ohioans the option of online registration, as is already available in 31 states. “We want to ensure the experience is safe, smooth and accurate,” said Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville. Democrats on the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, including Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, objected to the change.
“It’s a shame we can’t offer this convenience that voters in 30-plus other states enjoy,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent. “I don’t see any reason to delay. The system is already built. It doesn’t make any sense not to open that up to all voters for this upcoming major election.”
Online registration would use a slightly modified version of secretary of state’s current online system that allows voters to change their voter registration when, for example, they move. The key difference is that Ohioans would have to check a box giving permission for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to release their signature, which will be used at the polls to help verify their identity.