PDT Staff Writer
Speaking to more than 500 local elections administrators this week at the 2013 Ohio Elections Officials Summer Conference, Secretary of State Jon Husted called for the continued modernization of Ohio’s election systems, specifically making the case for the implementation of an online voter registration system.
“We are six months into this General Assembly and we have yet to see legislative action on this important reform. I recognize there are other important issues that demand attention, like Medicaid expansion and tax reform. However, it seems to me that surely there is time to include a provision for online voter registration,” Husted said. “But there is reason for optimism. We have bipartisan support in Ohio for online registration. Senator Frank LaRose of Akron, a Republican, and Representative Mike Stinziano of Columbus, a Democrat, are working on proposals to allow for online registration in Ohio. The passage of online registration is a real opportunity for the legislature and all of us to show the public we can work together as Republicans and Democrats to improve voting for all Ohioans. No matter your political leanings, online registration has something for you. If you are a person most concerned about voter access, you should be pushing for online voter registration. It’s convenient and easy for voters to use.”
Two of those attending were Julia Gearheart and Teresa Knittel, director and deputy director, respectively, of the Scioto County Board of Elections.
“We had classes,” Gearheart said. “As director and deputy director we are required to have so many hours of classes a year.”
Husted said the national spotlight rarely leaves Ohio come election time.
“It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, we were in full-preparation mode for the presidential election. We are Ohio after all – the most important swing state in the nation. We have the kind of jobs where every four years, the focus of the nation and the world are on what we do. Ohio elections face the most scrutiny, and so our election system must be the best. We did a good job last November, but we must strive to be even better in the future — and we are well on our way,” Husted told the gathering. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote while improving the integrity and efficiency of our elections. We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Among the focuses of Husted’s talk was “Maintaining the Voter Rolls.”
“When I took office, we had complete information on only 20 percent of voters. Because of our partnership with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and your hard work, we now have complete information on 80 percent of voters. That’s right — in two short years, we have quadrupled the amount of valuable voter information. It is amazing what we can do when we actually try,” Husted said. “In the same time period, you have verified and removed 220,500 deceased Ohioans from the voter rolls, ensuring less chance of fraud. You have also been diligent on duplicate registrations. In January 2011, there were more than 340,000 duplicate records identified on Ohio’s voter rolls. Just before the 2012 election, you had that number down to 1,400 and you just keep plugging along.”
Husted also touched on “public Accountability;” and told the attendees, “We can do better.”
Gearheart said she was already aware of much that was said at the conference.
“There were just a couple of updates, but nothing real new,” Gearheart said.
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