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Professor Believes Ballot Measure Could Lead To Higher Voter Turnout

Debbie Holmes/WOSU
Voting on Election Day

An elections law professor says the proposed constitutional amendment that would create new voter registration provisions and put existing statute in the state constitution would likely lead to more voter engagement.

The proposed petition calls for a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would; create automatic voter registration through the BMV (with the ability to opt out); allow same-day registration and voting; deliver ballots to overseas military members and citizens in a timely fashion; and guarantee 28 days of early voting.

Dan Tokaji, OSU elections law professor, says these provisions lift barriers to elections and can result in higher voter turnout.

"And they also help diversify the electorate bringing in at least some voters who are less likely to participate," says Tokaji.

The ACLU of Ohio is working on building what it calls a broad-based coalition of advocates for this ballot initiative. The group that filed the petition language with the Ohio Attorney General is called Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections.

Tokaji says, while some of these provisions are already implemented, this ballot initiative would create stronger protections.

"It's important to put these in the constitution because otherwise partisan politicians will mess with it. They can easily remove something that is just made in statute," says Tokaji.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office has until February 3 to respond to the petition language.

As of now, there is no organized opposition to the proposal. There are currently bills, SB186 and HB466, to create automated voter registration with the ability to opt out.

To get on the November ballot, the group would have to collect 442,958 valid signatures from around Ohio by the start of July.

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