Williams and Antonio Unveil Election Reform Legislation
May 28, 2020
Today, state Senators Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) announced they will soon introduce legislation to reform Ohio’s vote-by-mail process, improve Election Day procedures and streamline voter registration to increase voter participation.
“We need to restore trust in the election process as we saw the inadequacies and confusion during the primary election,” Antonio said. “We cannot go back to the days of long lines and limited in-person voting machines, especially during the time of Covid-19. This legislation will ensure access and fairness in our elections.”
The Senators want Ohioans to be able to request their absentee ballot online. In addition, their proposed legislation would harmonize Ohio’s voter registration process by allowing those who register online to provide the same information as those who fill a paper registration form – either the last four digits of their Social Security Number or the number of their driver’s license/state ID card, instead of both.
Antonio’s and Williams’ plan would also require that every registered voter in Ohio receive an absentee ballot application, including a prepaid return envelope, before any election going forward. In the event that in-person voting is restricted in any way, every registered voter would also be sent an absentee ballot, bypassing the request process entirely.
“It is important to establish policies that will give county election boards more flexibility to do what is best for their communities and ensure every citizen has access to the ballot box,” Williams said. “Voter access, without overly-complicated procedures, is vital to strengthening and safeguarding Election Day in Ohio.”
The bill would also allow counties to have multiple secure drop boxes; authorize Boards of Elections to mail provisional ballots to voters and require school buildings to be closed on Election Day for general elections. Contrary to recent suggestions by some elections officials to reduce the ratio of DRE voting machines to registered voters and precincts, this legislation will uphold the current ratios that have been in statute since 2006.
The Senators said their offices will be sending out a cosponsor request for this legislation today and are asking for their colleagues’ support in enhancing democracy.