Bill Targets Voting Discrepancies
Article from The Cincinnati Enquirer
December 11, 2013
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COLUMBUS — Ohio would cross-reference voter addresses with other state databases to try to clean up discrepancies under a voting bill that’s likely to pass the General Assembly on Wednesday.

The legislation is part of a collection of Republican-sponsored bills that Democrats and civil rights activists say are slowly chipping away at voting rights in Ohio, the quintessential swing state. Most of the other bills won’t get a vote until next year, and many may not get a vote at all.

Under the bill up for a vote on Wednesday, the secretary of state’s office would be able to try to update the voter rolls using information in databases associated with agencies such as the license bureau, the criminal justice system or offices that manage welfare and food stamp benefits. If the review were to identify a discrepancy, the secretary of state would notify local boards of elections so they could contact a person to try to update the record.

Giving the secretary of state’s office access to address databases will help make the voting system more accurate, said Sen. Joe Uecker, R-Miami Township, who sponsored the bill.

Opposition to the bill is “all partisan politics, plain and simple,” Uecker said.

“What’s the burden? This doesn’t prohibit anybody from voting,” he told The Enquirer. “This just makes sure that the names that are on the books belong to the right people and that people vote in the right places. You look at this day and age in modern technology and data management, why does the board of election have the same person, the same name, in two or three or four different places they have lived?”

The new practice would also allow boards of elections more easily to remove deceased voters from their rolls, Uecker said.

But opponents say the measure could lead to a mass-disqualification of voters.

“I think we need to have a process to get dead people off the rolls, but I’m concerned about the thousands of people who may be wrongfully removed at no fault of their own,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, in a committee hearing reported by Gongwer News Service.

Under Uecker’s bill, counties would also be able to keep fewer voting machines if they have had many absentee or early voters.

“One of the examples was a county that had mothballed 40-some machines (when it had) shorter lines,” Uecker said. “Under the current formula, they’d have to buy more machines and mothball them.”

Opponents have said the measure needs more flexibility to guarantee counties don’t get rid of too many voting machines and end up with longer lines on voting day.

The bill passed a House committee Tuesday, 7-4 on party lines. The Ohio Senate has already passed the bill, so if it passes the House Wednesday, it will head to the governor’s desk for his potential signature.

If it becomes law, the new legislation would go into effect before Ohio’s May 6 primary.

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