Proposed ballot issue expanding Ohio voting access laws clears initial hurdle

Andrew J. Tobias - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A proposed ballot measure that would automate voter registration and expand Ohio’s ballot-access laws has cleared an initial legal hurdle.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Thursday ruled that language submitted by Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections was an accurate summary of the group’s proposed constitutional amendment.

Yost’s office on Jan. 31 rejected the proposed amendment language on technical grounds. The group revised the language and resubmitted it last week.

With Yost’s OK, the measure now will go to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will certify whether it’s a single or multiple issues, the final step before backers can begin collecting signatures needed to make the November ballot. After that, the group would have until July 1 to collect roughly 443,000 valid voter signatures from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

“We are pleased to progress our campaign efforts forward, and we remain committed to protecting and ensuring the right to vote for all eligible Ohioans,” Toni Webb, campaign manager for Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections, said in a statement.

The amendment would automatically register to vote or update the voter registration — with an opt-out provision — of anyone visiting the BMV for a driver’s license or other state-issued ID.

It also would allow people to cast a ballot the same day they register to vote during a mandated early-voting period beginning 28 days before any election.

The issue campaign is backed by the ACLU, which funded a similar, successful effort in Michigan in 2018. It’s landed endorsements from the NAACP, the Philip A. Randolph Institute, a voter-rights advocacy group and the Ohio Environmental Council.

Andrew J. Tobias

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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