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Bill makes voting less accessible

To the editor:

Did you know that you can register to vote at your local Department of Motor Vehicles in Ohio? Like many, you didn’t know this. But now that you do, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can or your 18-year-old children can register to vote there? Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House proposed taking the BMV out of this option. Will libraries be next?

HB 294 is a step back making voting less accessible. Currently, Ohioans can vote early in-person on the Monday before Election Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The proposed change would remove that day from the early voting calendar, making voting less accessible.

Currently, in order to vote by mail or drop box, registered Ohioans are able to request a blank ballot be mailed to them. A paper form is used and submitted to the county board of elections office. The proposed change would require an online request with the voter using the last four digits of his or her Social Security number and two forms of ID, again less accessible. I know many people who do not own or use a computer, which is needed to perform this task.

In 2020 during the national election, Secretary of State Frank LaRose made drop-off boxes available for the duration of early voting. Early voting generally starts in Ohio two weeks before an election. The proposed change would limit drop-off boxes for 10 days only prior to Election Day, making them less accessible. Currently, Ohioans have until noon on the Saturday before Election Day to request an absentee ballot. The proposed change will make the deadline 10 days before an election less accessible.

Currently, Ohio’s secretary of state has traditionally sent out blank absentee ballots request forms to all voters with return postage paid envelope to encourage voting. Last year, the Ohio Legislature declined to pay for this postage during the general election. LaRose ended up paying for it out of his office funds. The proposed change restricts the secretary of state from prepaying postage only if the Legislature authorizes it first.

Currently, voters can be removed or purged from the voter rolls due to inactivity, which is fine because people move and die and it keeps the system updated. The proposed change, however, not only will purge a person from the voter rolls but it also prevents them from signing any petition for a candidate or issues as well as any activity at the BMV, simply because they chose to not vote in past elections.

During the last election, without invoking presidential loser’s name, Gov. Mike DeWine said he has great faith in our system, and LaRose said “Ohio ran the most successful election we’ve ever had.” Our state representative for the 96th district is Ron Ferguson. Call him and let him know we don’t need any changes to our current system, which is doing just fine, at (614) 466-3735.

Kathy Antinone

Steubenville

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