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Toledo Legal News - Dem lawmaker wants voter registration to be automatic


A Democrat lawmaker's plan to make voter registration automatic based upon information about the Ohio electorate stored in government and secondary school databases is stalled in committee as of summer recess.

House Bill 14, referred to the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives in February, has failed to gain any traction among committee members, despite Kent Rep. Kathleen Clyde's promise of an additional million Ohio voters added to the rolls.

"Automatic voter registration is a far more sensible way to make the list of eligible voters in Ohio," Clyde said of the plan promoted in the bill she sponsored. "House Bill 14 will allow Ohioans to be added to the rolls when they do everyday things like get a driver's license, seek disability services or simply turn 18."

Automatic voter registrations would be triggered by state driver's license and state ID registration, interaction with Job and Family Services and other federal Motor Voter law agencies and for all 18 year-old public and private school students.

Rather than opting in to register, Clyde's bill offers an opt-out period. Specifically, HB 14 would allow every person 21 days to opt out of voter registration in person or by mail.

"Antiquated voter registration is a barrier to voting," the lawmaker said. "Aggressive purging of voters is a barrier to voting.

"Automatic voter registration is the solution."

She said the move has the potential to expand Ohio voter rolls by another million, in addition to updating thousands more.

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles, other state agencies and schools would be required to provide the following details to the Ohio secretary of state, under the bill:

- The person's legal name, residence address and date of birth;

- The number of the person's driver's license or state identification card or the last four digits of the person's social security number;

- Whether the person is a United States citizen; and

- An electronic image of the person's signature.

Clyde said HB 14 is modeled after voter registration modernizing provisions passed by the Ohio House seven years ago under House Bill 260, as well as an Automatic Voter Registration law first adopted by the state of Oregon.

"With this legislation, Ohio would join six other states and Washington D.C. in adopting Automatic Voter Registration," the lawmaker said in a press release. "Currently, more than half of (the) states are considering some form of Automatic Voter Registration."

Clyde invited Camille Wimbish, director of the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, to join her upon the bill's introduction.

"The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition is pleased to support this automatic voter registration bill because it will make the registration process more accurate, efficient and convenient for election officials and voters alike," Wimbish said in the prepared statement. "This reform is a win-win because it modernizes our election system and removes unnecessary barriers to the ballot box."

Another provision of the bill would be to expand online voter registration to all eligible Ohioans, including those who don't have a photo ID.

Clyde - a declared candidate for Ohio secretary of state - last year, challenged the state's lead elections officer, John Husted, for purging outdated voter registrations.

KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

Dem lawmaker wants voter registration to be automatic

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