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February 25, 2013
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio's top elections official would be required to create an online voter registration system, under a bill introduced by state Rep. Michael Stinziano.

The bill, would require Ohio’s secretary of state to create an online voter registration system that would allow qualified Ohio citizens to be able to register to vote or to change their voter registration information online.

"This will boost convenience for voters and will help election boards by cutting back on data entry costs and errors," said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat and the former director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. "I encourage my colleagues to support this common-sense bill."

In 2012, the Secretary of State’s online change of address system allowed more than 106,000 Ohio voters to update their addresses between August 9th and the close of voter registration. However, this system does not exist in Ohio law.

If Stinziano’s bill passes, Ohio would join at least 14 other states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington that already offer or will soon offer an online voter registration system.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona first implemented online voter registration in 2002, and has reported success with their program.  The Arizona secretary of state reports that over 70 percent of all voter registrations are now performed online, and that the state saw an increase of 9.5 percent in voter registration from 2002 to 2004 with the implementation of online registration.

Arizona also reports cost savings by eliminating the data entry process for state and county employees that a paper-based system requires, as well as increased accuracy in its voter rolls.  The costs associated with a paper registration were 83 cents, while the cost of an online registration was 3 cents according to a 2010 Arizona report.

Online voter registrations require a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number, and the inclusion of these dates in all online registration allows for quick and accurate checks for duplicate records.

 Stinziano’s measure requires state agencies especially the Department of Health, Department of Jobs and Family Services and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to provide information to the secretary of state deemed necessary to maintain the voter registration database.

The bill, if passed, would allow the state to enter into agreements to share info or data with other states or groups of states as the secretary of state deems necessary.