Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted deals with election issues every day, but over the years one issue has been utmost in his wish list since 2011 and now it has finally come to fruition.
“Ohio is a national leader in many areas of elections administration and with today’s passage of online voter registration we can add one more,” Husted told the Daily Times in an exclusive interview Monday. “The great thing about it is it’s more secure. It saves money, and it’s obviously more convenient for voters.”
Husted said the reason online registration is more secure is that officials can instantaneously check when someone applies online with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database to be sure that person is eligible to vote in Ohio.
“Nobody will get on the rolls that shouldn’t be,” Husted said. “And it’s convenient because you can do it from a computer or your phone, your ipad, or whatever the device is that you have, and it saves a lot of money for counties because they don’t have to hire people to manually key in all these voter registration cards. It just uploads automatically.”
The only drawback is that legislators put a provision in the bill that would prohibit the state from using online registration until 2017.
“A lot of the legislators were unjustifiably nervous about doing it in a presidential election year,” Husted said. “We told them that it’s fine; we’re ready to go, but it appears that they’re going to leave that provision in, but we still have online change of address. If you’ve registered before and you’ve moved, make sure you update your voter rolls online.”
Another voter proposition is the “Safe At Home,” bill, which allows people who fear being stalked or attacked to register to vote without putting their address out there as a public record.
“I believe ‘Safe At Home’ will be passed this week by the Ohio Senate,” Husted said. “which is great because if they pass it, it will be ready to go for this year.”
Husted said the bill is designed to assist victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, or anyone who would have a reason to fear for their own safety.
Husted said not everybody can take advantage of the bill. If someone applies, they will be put in touch with a domestic violence counsellor for an assessment before you can qualify.
“Your voting record is a public record. People can use that database to track you down if they want to and cause you harm,” Husted said. “So anybody that qualifies, we will help them shield that so that they can vote and be part of democracy. It gives them a chance to exercise their personal freedom without sacrificing their personal safety. We believe it’s a good bill. We’ve got law enforcement across the state – sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors all supporting what we’re doing and I believe we will get that done this week.”
Any election information is available at myohiovote.com.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.