Initiative to help U.S. troops vote

Our troops need online voter registration

If ever there was a time for Ohio to implement online voter registration, it’s now. If the benefits of increased accuracy, improved security, and significant cost reduction haven’t convinced you, let me give you one more reason: Our troops need it.

Unfortunately, we know our men and women in uniform are commonly in places around the world where it would not be easy or even possible to print off a voter registration form and mail it to their county board of elections in Ohio. If we simply offered the ability to register online, our military personnel could engage in the democratic process by investing just a few minutes on our website.

I have been calling on the General Assembly to give authorization for this initiative for nearly five years. In addition to helping us keep more accurate voter rolls, we know we can give significant cost savings to our local governments by modernizing this process. A study released just this month by Pew Charitable Trusts found states who have implemented online voter registration programs report saving between 50 cents and $2.24 per registration. That means over the past four years, Ohio could have saved up to $13.2 million.

Just last week, a number of military organizations came out in strong support for online voter registration because of the benefits it promises for our troops. General Gordon Sullivan, the 32nd Chief of Staff of the United States Army, wrote that “with online voter registration, Ohio has another opportunity to lead the nation in providing support to those who defend the very right to cast a ballot.”

One of the first initiatives I implemented after becoming Ohio’s Secretary of State was the Military Ready-to-Vote program. These useful packets give our service members more convenient access to the ballot while serving our country away from their home in Ohio.

We have made progress in making it easier for our service members to participate in our elections. In 2012, those efforts led to Ohio being one of just 15 states to receive the coveted “All-Star” rating from the Military Voter Protection Project that year. But there is still work we need to do in order to offer better support and improve services for our troops. Online voter registration would be a huge step in the right direction.

This Memorial Day, I encourage you to look for ways to share your gratitude with our current and former service members. One way I’m doing that is by doing all I can to make it easy for them to cast a ballot and assure them that their vote and their voice matters.

John Husted is the Ohio Secretary of State.

Speak up

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