COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Republicans are planning to introduce comprehensive election reform soon. On Monday, Democrats and voting rights advocates reacted to the sweeping changes being proposed.
Rep. Bill Seitz and Rep. Sharon Ray sent out a co-sponsor request to their colleagues. In it, they say although Ohio’s 2020 election had “minimal complaints,” the Representatives believe “there is always room for improvement in safeguarding the integrity of election processes.”
Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters, said the bill is unnecessary.
“Voter fraud is exceedingly rare and we didn’t see it in this past election, so I’m not sure what we’re trying to solve or protect,” she said.
The proposal includes among other things, the following:
- Automated voter registration through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
- Allow each county board of election to have 3 drop boxes (under 24/7 video surveillance) for the 10 days prior to the election.
- Expand the current Youth at the Booth program to make all 17-year-olds eligible to serve as precinct officers.
- Allow online absentee ballot requests, requiring two-factor authentication.
- Prioritize the order in which now-required forms of ID for absent voting are to be furnished, so that voters must use the driver’s license number or state ID if they have one.
- Eliminate in-person absentee voting on the Monday prior to the General Election, “so that county BOE’s can be wholly focused on preparation for Election Day.”
“There are some good things in there, but I think when we’re talking about our most fundamental right, we want to expand access with no strings attached,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D -Cleveland).
During a news conference Monday, Democrats claim that Republicans are trying to make it harder for people to vote, the opposite of what our states need.
“Even in Ohio, even in the 21st century, people have to encounter so many obstacles and challenges just to exercise their right to vote,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon).
In the co-sponsor request, Republican lawmakers said this bill will make “voting easy and cheating hard.”
The bill has not been formally introduced but those who are interesting in co-sponsoring were asked to respond by Friday.