Important changes brewing in Ohio election administration

Legislation moving through the Ohio Senate (SB8) could signal come major changes in the way that elections are conducted in Ohio.  Much of the legislation is in response to election anomalies and controversies during 2008.

The full text of the bill is here:; interested readers will want to jump forward to Sec. 3503.

Ohio unexpectedly had a brief period same day registration and voting when laws created a “golden week”–a five day overlap between the end of registration and the start of early voting.  The bill shortens the early voting period to 20 days before the election and ending 5 pm the Saturday before the election (a reform that I have endorsed in other fora–there is simply no justification for a five week long period of early voting).

The bill also tightens requirements for filling out absentee ballots, removes superfluous restrictions (notarization, paper weight, envelope size, etc) regarding absentee and UOCAVA ballot requests, and allows the establishment of up to three satellite locations for early voting (to be “geographically diverse” and only upon a majority vote of the county elections board).

The bill requires that the SoS check registration records against the DMV and establish procedures so that citizens will be notified if there is an error in their registration.

And following provisions in the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE), the bill allows for electronic transmission of voter registration applications from UOCAVA voters.