Posted by Adam Fogel on April 22, 2009Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has released a report with recommendations to make her state's elections run more smoothly. Taking suggestions from the Brennan Center for Justice's Lawrence Norden, the Ohio Association of Elections Officials, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and election administration experts in her office, she has put together a list of proposals that will help create more uniformity in the election process and increase access for voters. Here are some highlights:
Cost saving measures for boards of elections. Move special elections to primary or general election days, saving taxpayers an estimated $2.7-5.4 million per year. Allow the use of vote-by-mail for vacancy in office special elections. Explore measures such as limiting state issue ballot language length, creating buying pools for elections materials, and implementing a voting centers pilot project.
Enhancements for the Statewide Voter Registration Database. Finalize a new voter registration matching process with the Ohio BMV and the SSA. Provide counties with a form of access to relevant nonmatches, with rules prescribing their treatment of relevant nonmatches. Specify that a nonmatch could not, on its own, be the basis for disenfranchising a voter.
Streamline Ohio's voter ID laws. Bring Ohio into line with other states by focusing voter ID on verification of identity, not address. In particular, allow either an official photo ID or two non-photo IDs for voting purposes, a change that will provide both voters and poll workers with greater certainty and predictability in administering voter ID laws.
Offer annual vote-by-mail ballot requests. Decrease the administrative burden on boards of elections by creating an annual vote-by-mail ballot request form.
Expand the number of in-person early voting locations and align Ohio's in-person early voting period with other states. Decrease the period for in-person early voting to 20 days before a general election, while increasing the number of locations allowed from one to four. End early voting no earlier than 5:00 p.m. the Sunday before Election Day.
Streamline provisional balloting. Limit the reasons voters are required to vote a provisional ballot and increase the instances where that ballot is counted. Modify the wrong precinct rule by allowing any ballot cast anywhere in a county to be remade and counted if cast by an eligible voter. The full report can be found on the Secretary of State's Web site at www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/news/20090422postconferencereport.pdf