COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) — Since the 2020 Election, a flurry of bills have been introduced nationwide trying to reform the election system.
In Ohio, a bill that would make big changes to the election process had its first hearing on Thursday.
“We’re taking significant steps, not as many as you would like I’ll grant you that, but we are taking significant steps to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” testified Rep. Bill Seitz, (R) Cincinnati.
House Bill 294 covers a broad range of election topics: it implements automated voter registration, allows online request for absentee ballots, removes the final day of early voting, and limits drop-boxes to the county board of elections.
ACLU of Ohio calls the bill a Trojan Horse. “We do think that there are good things but when you look inside the bill there are a lot of problematic provisions in there,” said Collin Marozzi Policy Strategist of ACLU of Ohio.
Representative Seitz, a sponsor of the bill, defended it several times on Thursday. He said Ohioans have several choices to vote.
“Ohio, under this bill, will allow four, count them four ways to vote,” said Seitz. “You can vote early in person, you can vote using the dropbox, you can vote by mailing in an absentee ballot — or here’s a real novel thought — you can vote on election day.”
Democratic lawmakers said the bill is laced with voter suppression.
“It’s kind of like a death by a thousand cuts… In this state we’re actually 27th in voter participation so we have a lot of work to do, and this will make that issue worse,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, (D) Cleveland.
Questions to sponsors of the bill were cut short on Thursday by the committee chairman, leading to Democrats walking out of the committee. Democratic lawmakers say they plan to take this debate on the road, holding town halls across the state.
Rep. Seitz says there will be plenty of hearings on this bill and it will be fully vetted.