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Two Bills Would Create Automated Voter Registration, But In Different Ways

Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Gahanna, Ohio
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Gahanna, Ohio

A pair of bills in the Ohio Legislature would change the way people register to vote, making it an automated process instead requiring them to fill out forms or go online. People could still opt out of the process in both. But the new bill in the House would do it differently than a Senate proposal.

Currently, when you go to the BMV, the clerk should ask if you want to register to vote or update your registration. If you say yes, you are given a form to do that. But Democratic State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) says that system isn’t working well.

“When you compare Ohio to the other states surrounding us who are guided also by the Motor Voter law,  we don’t perform as good as they do when it comes to voter registration in similar systems," Sweeney says.

Sweeney thinks there are several reasons why Ohioans are not registering to vote or changing their registrations when they go to the BMV.

“There are already long lines at the BMV and they don’t want to have to fill out any more paperwork. People already think they are registered or people at the BMV are not asking for a variety of reason to get people through the line," Sweeney says.

Both Sweeney’s bill, and the one in the Senate, would automatically update voter registrations with the information provided. People could opt out if they wanted. But unlike the Senate bill, hers would not allow people to declare a party at the point of registration. They’d still need to do that when they vote in the primary as they currently do. And Sweeney’s bill would use high school enrollment records to register new voters. 

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat. Sweeney says no House Republicans have signed onto her bill yet though she says some have voiced support for it.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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