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Rep. Sweeney introduces Automated Voter Registration bill to modernize Ohio elections for a new decade

Legislation could add 1 Million Eligible Ohio Voters to the Rolls
January 13, 2020
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today introduced legislation to create Automated Voter Registration in Ohio. The bill has the potential to add 1 million eligible Ohio voters to the rolls. Rep. Sweeney worked on the bill as part of a bipartisan working group including Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Senator Nathan Manning and Senator Vernon Sykes.

“It’s a new decade and Ohio is overdue for this common-sense modern reform,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Ohio’s voter purge has hurt the state’s reputation on the national stage by kicking eligible voters off the rolls. Automated Voter Registration will help repair our reputation and our voter rolls making them more accurate and secure with greater efficiency and at a lower cost to taxpayers. This is a policy that has garnered bipartisan support in the country and here in Ohio and I am confident we can get it done.”

The bill would automate voter registration for citizens who interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or attend high school in the state. Citizens will be registered to vote or have their name or address updated unless they decline the registration or update. The bill requires the secretary of state to study the readiness of other state agencies – such as Jobs and Family Services, Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, Taxation, and those providing disability services – and authorizes the secretary to add new agencies to the automated system.

Currently, under the federal “Motor Voter” law, citizens must be offered voter registration simultaneously with their BMV transaction through an opt-in process. And under current state law, high schools are official voter registration agencies with an opt-in process. The bill would automate voter registration by making it an “opt-out” rather than “opt-in” system. Ohioans who choose to opt out would not be registered to vote. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an automated voter registration system.