Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Wednesday pledged to study how to switch Ohio to automatic voter registration, similar to systems used in more than a dozen states.
Anytime citizens interact with state government — paying taxes, getting a fishing license, renewing a driver license or other transaction — they’d be automatically registered to vote unless they say they want to opt out.
LaRose is teaming up with Republican state Sen. Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville and Democrat state Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney of Cleveland to develop legislation to establish the new system. LaRose did not commit to accomplishing it before the 2020 presidential election is in full swing.
“We want to get this conversation going,” he said. “I’d love to have something online as soon as possible.”
In the past four years, 15 states and the District of Columbia have authorized automatic voter registration, according to the Brennan Center.
Automatic voter registrations and voter information updates could help eliminate the need to mailing notices to infrequent voters and purging them from the rolls when they fail to respond, LaRose said.
“The first part of voting is, of course, that you have to be on the rolls. Anything we can do to make those rolls more accurate and to make keep people on is essential,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “We applaud the secretary for bringing together a bipartisan team.”
In January 2017, Ohio launched a system to allow voters to register and update their voter registration online. Although the law was signed in June 2016, lawmakers delayed its effective date until after the November 2016 election.
In related news, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a measure to create the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. June 2019 will mark 100 years since Ohio ratified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.