Ohio Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley Township) today announced the passage of legislation aimed at expanding voter access and convenience by allowing Ohioans to register to vote online. 

Senate Bill 63, authored by LaRose, would authorize the Ohio Secretary of State to implement a secure online voter registration system.

"I am proud to have led this effort to bring the security and convenience of online voter registration to Ohio," said LaRose. "I applaud my colleagues in the House and Senate for voting to include Ohio in the majority of states that offer this option to their voters. Online voter registration will lead to major cost savings and improved accuracy in Ohio's elections process."

The new system would give Ohio voters the option of submitting a simple form online while maintaining the option of registering to vote by paper.

"Senate Bill 63 modernizes Ohio's voter registration process and focuses on convenience, accessibility and efficiency," LaRose added. "Improving convenience for voters while helping to eliminate fraud was my top priority in sponsoring this legislation."

37 other states already allow online voter registration and 76 Ohio counties have called for its implementation.

The online voter registration system would instantly cross-check with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles' internal database, preventing fraud by verifying citizenship and other necessary information. Currently, Ohio voters can update their voting address online, but new registrations must still be completed by paper under current law. From 2010 to 2012, estimates show, Ohio could have saved as much as $3 million from processing registrations online.

Senate Bill 206: Improving Local Government Transparency 

LaRose also announced the Senate passage of legislation he sponsored to ensure greater transparency in local elections by allowing campaign finance reports to be filed electronically with county boards of elections. Currently, Ohio law does not authorize county boards of elections to permit electronic filing, even on a voluntary basis. Senate Bill 206 would remove the outdated paper-only filing requirement that still regulates political candidates and campaign committees that file with local boards of elections.

"This commonsense bill allows local candidates to access a system that has worked well for the past 15 years," said LaRose.  "By granting the public access to local campaign reports, we're taking an important step to improve government efficiency and transparency."

Senate Bill 97: Cracking Down on Violent Career Criminals

Today the Senate also agreed to House changes to legislation aimed at protecting Ohioans from repeat offenders who commit the majority of violent crimes around the state.

Senate Bill 97, also known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, would classify any adult convicted of at least two violent felonies in the past eight years as a "Violent Career Criminal." If any offender with this designation commits another violent felony while armed, the bill would require an additional 2 to 11 years of prison time. For additional crimes involving firearms, it would increase prison time by 50%.

"The Violent Career Criminal Act gives law enforcement officers and prosecutors another tool for keeping violent criminals off our streets," said LaRose, who sponsored the bill. "Through collaborative, bipartisan effort, we crafted a bill that cracks down on the worst violent offenders in society while defending the rights of law-abiding gun owners."

Senate Bill 206 passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and now proceeds to the Ohio House for further consideration. Senate Bills 63 and 97 now await the governor's signature.

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