Friday, January 10, 2014

Providing More Access and Integrity in the Voting Booth

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

Over the past year our state has taken a giant step in the right direction by reforming our elections process to enable more people to vote and increasing the integrity of this vital process. These efforts protect a fundamental part of our government and the rich history of freedom in this great country.

The Ohio General Assembly passed three bills improving how Ohioans vote and making that vote more open than before. We worked across the aisle to provide more access to the voting booth and extend the rights of voters in Ohio. We did this with three separate bills focused on the mission of better elections.

The first bill, Senate Bill 10, increased the time permitted for electors to cast their ballots. This ensures everyone who comes to vote before the polls close will be provided the opportunity to do so. It also outlines the process with detailed instructions that allow disabled persons to vote, with the assistance of two precinct officials of different political parties.

Senate Bill 200 an electronic voter system, helping to coordinate elections throughout the state of Ohio. The bill also allows the Secretary of State to check voter records against the existing records of other state agencies such as the Department of Health, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Job and Family Services, just to make sure voter records are kept safe and up-to-date. Senate Bill 200 also reduces the number of required voting machines in areas where many electors cast absentee ballots, which helps local governments by reducing unneeded costs, allowing them to spend taxpayer dollars where they are most needed.

The third and final bill, Senate Bill 238, allows more time for the local boards of elections to actually verify the qualifications of an elector before they vote. The bill eliminated the period over 30 days out from an election that allowed voters to register and vote on the same day. This process made residency verification and other voting requirements difficult, which is why it was necessary to take action now and prevent the old law from causing further complications within the state.

Updating Ohio’s voting laws is a serious matter. As I work with my colleagues to make these decisions, I remember that this is a right so precious, and our ancestors have fought long and hard to obtain it. The goal is to preserve this right and make it easier to vote while bringing more integrity to our elections process.

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