If you could make voting easier and more secure, and save tax dollars at the same time, would you? Of course you would.
In Ohio we can, but we won’t — or at least we haven’t so far. The way to achieve these things, and more, is through online voter registration.
Allowing Ohioans to register to vote online would make the process more convenient. They would be able to register when it works for them, any time of day or night, from the comfort of their home.
And Ohio stands to save millions of dollars. Between 2010 and 2012, county boards of elections across the state processed about 3 million paper registration forms.
These forms can cost 50 cents to a dollar more per filing than online registrations. Had online voter registration been in place over those two years, local boards collectively could have saved as much as $3 million.
Voters also can be confident that the online registration system would be more accurate and secure. To gain access to the system, a person would be required to provide his or her name, date of birth, and driver’s license number, and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.
These data would be immediately matched against records from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, allowing for instant verification. If the information entered did not match BMV files, then that individual would not be permitted to register online.
An online voter registration system also would reduce data entry. That means fewer mistakes and more-accurate voter rolls.
I have spent the past three years advocating approval of this system by the General Assembly. Ohio could have been a leader on this issue, since only a handful of states provided this option to voters.
Unfortunately, the legislature has not acted, and Ohio has gone from being a leader to a follower. At least 19 states have adopted an online registration system and many more are thinking of doing so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
If you want to win the future, you cannot live in the past. Online voter registration is the next step in further modernizing Ohio’s elections system.
Allowing Ohioans to register online not only will improve the voting process and save time and taxpayer money, but also will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. As the most important electoral swing state in the nation, Ohio shouldn’t have a second-class system of elections.
Ohio’s lawmakers have the power to make us a leader or a follower. It’s time to lead.
Jon Husted is Ohio secretary of state. For more information about online voter registration, go to MyOhioVote.com.
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