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State reps introduce election bill

Published By Medina Gazette on May 8, 2021
Sharon A. Ray In The News

MEDINA TWP. — For Ohio Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, the election process hits close to the heart.

She was a member of the Medina County Board of Elections from 2014 to 2019 before joining the state Legislature last November.

This week, Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Ray introduced legislation that will modernize and codify election laws as they currently stand in the state of Ohio.

“As a former member of the Medina County Board of Elections and the bipartisan Ohio Elections Officials Association, I feel strongly that Ohio does elections right,” Ray said in a statement. “The Election Modernization and Security Act will codify much of what Ohio is already doing. The integrity of Ohio’s election practices should continue to be above reproach.”

Seitz said the bill would allow for more secure and safe elections while ensuring Ohioans’ voices are heard at the ballot boxes.

“Ohio has been a leader in the way it runs its elections, and this bill will continue that positive track record,” he said.

Carol Lawler, executive director of the Medina County Board of Elections, said she is in favor of the bill.

As proposed, the bill:

• Allows for Ohio voters to request an absentee ballot online — through a secure two-factor authentication — similar to the current online voter registration system.

• Codifies automated (not automatic) voter registration through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The BMV would also be able to update voter registration addresses when individuals update their addresses at the BMV.

• Allows for a prioritized list of voter identification methods — expanding the list to allow electronic versions of their bank statements or utility bills instead of hard copies.

• Eliminates in-person voting the Monday before the election based on the request from many local boards of elections.

• Requires extensive testing of voting machines prior to all elections, something Medina County does routinely.

“We always test all the machines before every election,” Lawler said. “They want to put that into the law.”

• Prevents the mailing of absentee ballots less than 10 days before the election to ensure the U.S. Postal Service has enough time to deliver the ballot before Election Day.

Lawler said this would be extremely helpful for her office.

“You don’t know if the post office will (get them to us on time),” she said. “It’s a very tight timeline.”

• Expands the definition of voter activity to ensure fewer active voters are removed from the voter rolls.

“I feel this bill will not only make it easier to vote in the state of Ohio but harder to cheat — a goal we can all agree upon,” Ray said.

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