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Voter Registration Fix Moves Ohio into the 21st Century

By Michele Reynolds
October 12, 2023
On The Record

As the primary sponsor of SB 147, effectively known as The Voter Registration Modernization Act, I am committed to delivering results for my constituents. This voter friendly bill was inspired by new American voters in my district who raised the question on how to declare party affiliation in Ohio. Many of them, who are excited to participate in free and fair elections, didn’t understand why the only way to become a Democrat or Republican in Ohio is to choose a partisan ballot in a primary election in even numbered years.

Because our current system is antiquated, party affiliation is implied by the ballot you choose instead of declared.

This assumption is just that: an assumption. The process offers no real choice for voters, and that doesn’t sound free and fair to me. 

It’s time our voter registration system gets an update. Ohioans deserve it, and I’m committed to getting it done.

Thus, Senate Bill 147 was designed to modernize Ohio’s voter registration system, allowing voters to declare or update party affiliation in real time.

While the bill’s original version included provisions closing primaries and allowing voters to choose party affiliation up to 30 days before a primary election, the revised substitute bill (Senate Sub Bill 147) removes these provisions to narrowly tailor the bill to focus on one goal: giving Ohio voters the flexibility and freedom to declare their party affiliation in real time, even up to Election Day. Through this legislation, the process is simplified allowing voters to do so through the simplicity of the voter registration form, both online or and in person, thus making the process easy and accessible.

The right to determine one’s own values and political beliefs should be left to the individual, not the “old” system. Senate Bill 147 puts that power back where it belongs—with the people.

There are countless other benefits to voters as a result. Voters will have the flexibility and time to make party affiliation decisions, empowering them to be civically engaged and well-informed at the ballot box.

This modification improves our election data integrity by offering real-time, accurate data to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. It also modernizes our system and puts Ohioans at the forefront of it.

Simply put, Senate Bill 147 is a voter-friendly bill that empowers voters to be more civically engaged in the electoral process.

Unfortunately, most reporters who inquired about the bill were solely focused on closed primaries, which was a side issue to my main goal of simplifying the voter registration process.

In an effort to separate these issues, my sub bill eliminates the language on closed primaries. Ohio’s primary elections are partially open, and will still allow voters to choose a partisan ballot of their choice on Election Day. While the partisan ballot selected will still classify a voter into a party affiliation, the difference this bill makes is that a voter has the ability to update their party affiliation at any time without waiting two years for the next primary election.

My objective remains to modernize Ohio’s voter registration system. That simple.

I care about getting the job done for my constituents. They came to me to fix an old process and bring voter registration into the 21st century and that’s what Senate Bill 147 accomplishes.

Results Matter!!!

Senator Michele Reynolds