COLUMBUS–The Ohio Senate today passed Senate Bill 238, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R–Copley), which seeks to strengthen the integrity of Ohio’s election system by giving boards of elections the adequate time to properly verify registrations before voting begins.
This bill addresses concerns that were brought to the Senate by our bipartisan boards of elections from across the state. These boards have made it clear that allowing individuals to register and cast a ballot on the same day is problematic.
“Current law perpetuates an election system that is susceptible to voter fraud and undermines citizens’ confidence in this crucial aspect of our democratic process,” LaRose said. “This bill would not reduce opportunities for Ohioans to register to vote, but would ensure our elections are administered accurately. With the passage of Senate Bill 238, Ohio remains a national leader in voter convenience, allowing our voters to cast early ballots on more days than most states, something of which we should be proud.”
According to a study by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, Ohio will remain in the top ten states in the nation and first in the region for the number of days for early voting under Senate Bill 238.
The Ohio Constitution requires that voters register thirty days before an election, which is currently overlapped by the 35 day period when voters are permitted to vote early. These coinciding periods leave a weeklong timeframe by which voters are both registering to vote and voting, causing additional strain on local boards of elections in their busiest part of the year.
“This bill seeks to correct an oversight in current law that has created significant burden on our local elections administrators,” said LaRose. “Both Republican and Democrat legislators as well as Secretaries of State from both parties and our bipartisan boards of elections have all supported this common sense solution.”
Under Senate Bill 238, absentee voting will begin the day after voter registration closes, thus eliminating the overlap and giving local officials the time they need to adequately prepare the voting rolls for the pending election.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) a bipartisan organization representing election officials from across the state, supports these reforms.
“They have long understood that shortening the absentee voting period will enhance voter confidence by eliminating Golden Week,” said Aaron Ockerman on behalf of the OAEO. “Furthermore, right-sizing the length of absentee voting helps counties spend their tax dollars more efficiently.”
The bill will now proceed to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.
"Our goal is to establish a redistricting process that works for Ohioans, not politicians," said LaRose. "I'm proud of the plan we developed last year to achieve a more balanced way of drawing state legislative lines, and there is no good reason not to extend its provisions to federal districts as well."
"I was honored to spend time with these talented leaders from Bulgaria, a remarkable country I had the opportunity to visit back in 2000," said LaRose. "From adopting online voter registration to making redistricting procedures more equitable, Ohio faces electoral hurdles that these leaders have also confronted firsthand."
As we celebrate this Independence Day, let us be reminded of the extraordinary boldness that propelled our founders to victory and inspires us to serve the country that we love. Let us be bold, for it is our inheritance and responsibility.
"Now that the Senate is summer recess, I'm looking forward to spending more time with constituents in my district," said LaRose. "Summer is a great time to explore new ideas for legislation, so I value the input of everyone who comes to office hours."