COLUMBUS–The Ohio Senate today passed Senate Bill 238, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R–Copley), which seeks to strengthen the integrity of Ohio’s election system by giving boards of elections the adequate time to properly verify registrations before voting begins.
This bill addresses concerns that were brought to the Senate by our bipartisan boards of elections from across the state. These boards have made it clear that allowing individuals to register and cast a ballot on the same day is problematic.
“Current law perpetuates an election system that is susceptible to voter fraud and undermines citizens’ confidence in this crucial aspect of our democratic process,” LaRose said. “This bill would not reduce opportunities for Ohioans to register to vote, but would ensure our elections are administered accurately. With the passage of Senate Bill 238, Ohio remains a national leader in voter convenience, allowing our voters to cast early ballots on more days than most states, something of which we should be proud.”
According to a study by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, Ohio will remain in the top ten states in the nation and first in the region for the number of days for early voting under Senate Bill 238.
The Ohio Constitution requires that voters register thirty days before an election, which is currently overlapped by the 35 day period when voters are permitted to vote early. These coinciding periods leave a weeklong timeframe by which voters are both registering to vote and voting, causing additional strain on local boards of elections in their busiest part of the year.
“This bill seeks to correct an oversight in current law that has created significant burden on our local elections administrators,” said LaRose. “Both Republican and Democrat legislators as well as Secretaries of State from both parties and our bipartisan boards of elections have all supported this common sense solution.”
Under Senate Bill 238, absentee voting will begin the day after voter registration closes, thus eliminating the overlap and giving local officials the time they need to adequately prepare the voting rolls for the pending election.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) a bipartisan organization representing election officials from across the state, supports these reforms.
“They have long understood that shortening the absentee voting period will enhance voter confidence by eliminating Golden Week,” said Aaron Ockerman on behalf of the OAEO. “Furthermore, right-sizing the length of absentee voting helps counties spend their tax dollars more efficiently.”
The bill will now proceed to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.
"I am humbled to be named a co-chair of the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance,” said Senator LaRose, “As an active participant with NICD since its inception, I am excited to work with a group of like-minded individuals to spread the message of civility in government”.
"Ohio's new online voter registration system will make registering to vote more convenient, while saving millions in taxpayer dollars and helping state and county elections officials to keep more accurate records," said Senator LaRose.
"The alarming number of recent fentanyl related deaths is a serious concern," said LaRose. "This legislation was crafted to punish traffickers while ensuring treatment for addicts."
"Our county boards of elections work hard to stretch every taxpayer dollar as far as it will go to ensure efficient, fair elections," said LaRose. "Forcing them to hold uncontested primary elections is a clear waste of time and taxpayer resources. This commonsense, bipartisan bill would remove the unnecessary cost burden placed on local communities and improve efficiency in the administration of our elections."