Ohio to start online voter registration in January

Secretary of state says that move will save millions for the state.

Ohioans can register to vote online starting Jan. 1, an effort that could save the state millions of dollars, according to Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Currently 31 states and Washington, D.C., allow voters to register online.

“Raise a glass of champagne, offer a toast, get online and register to vote,” Husted said in a statement Tuesday.

Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 63, allowing online registration, back in June, but it is just now taking effect in time for the upcoming local elections in 2017. The decision was made not to have the law take effect before the 2016 presidential election.

“The world is moving online,” state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said on Tuesday. “More and more people look to do as much of their business online as they can because it’s convenient.”

State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley Twp., was the sponsor of the bill and worked on it for several years.

The information submitted online for voter registration will be checked against records with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. To register to vote online will require a driver’s license or a state-issued ID card. Ohioans who don’t have one of those IDs, will have to register to vote on paper.

Some Democrats fought the bill because of the ID requirement. Around 300,000 Ohioans are believed to not have state-issued ID cards.

Currently, Ohioans can go online at the Secretary of State's website to change the address of a voter registration. In January people will be allowed to register to vote on the same site at www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/

Husted said online registration has proven in other states to save between 50 cents and $2.34 per registration, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Between 2011 and 2016, the state could have saved between $3.7 million and $17.3 million, he said.

“Online voter registration is more convenient, more secure, more accurate and less costly than the paper voter registration alone and I am proud that we will finally be able to provide this service to Ohio voters,” Husted said.

Husted said online voter registration is more secure than paper registration because the system will immediately check a voter’s eligibility prior to accepting the registration. Husted said this reduces the risk of human error.

SPEAK OUT: Tell us what you think on our Ohio Politics Facebook page

Arizona was the first state to allow online voter registration back in 2002. Every state around Ohio, except Michigan, has online voter registration.

Most of the states with online voter registration have not reported any cases of fraud or security breaches, though Republicans in California last month alleged that the state’s system is at risk and may consider legal action.

Party leaders believe the four-year-old system allows multiple people to be registered from the same computer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Beagle said e does have some security concerns but has been assured the process is secure.

“It makes sense to explore the security aspect further, but we aren’t talking about voting online, just registering,” he said.

About the Author