Ohio Voter Rights Coalition Blog; The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition

Help Pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Shelby v. Holder, the Supreme Court decision which gutted core components of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. The Shelby case is devastating because for the last half century, the VRA has protected the right to vote for millions of Americans. Unless Congress updates the VRA, the federal government will be powerless to stop racially discriminatory election procedures from going into effect.   
Congress has been unwilling to restore the critical protections of the VRA for two years -- however the need for voting rights protections has skyrocketed.  In 2014, 21 states had new voting restrictions in place, followed by 17 states introducing 40 new voting restrictions in 2015.  The 2016 election will be the first in 50 years where voters will not have the full protections of the VRA, which makes fixing the Voting Rights Act an urgent priority.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (VRAA), a bill just introduced in Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Lewis, will restore key voting rights protections.  Most importantly, the VRAA will modernize the preclearance found in the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 and protect against voting changes that may be harmful or discriminatory.
Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses alike have reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in full for decades, and there is no reason why we cannot all work together to restore the Voting Rights Act today.  
Will you join us?  Sign our petition to urge Congress to act quickly to restore the Voting Rights Act.

Tweet: Sign the petition asking Congress to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015! http://ctt.ec/bGUx9+  #VotingRightsAct

OVRC supports Online Voter Registration in Ohio (updated 6/29/15)

 On, 6/10, we presented the following testimony in support of Ohio Senate Bill 63 (read legislation summary here), which would create an online voter registration system.  Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted also testified in support of this legislation (read his testimony here).

Recent News on Online Voter Registration in Ohio

Online Voter Registration on its Way to Reality! ACLU Ohio Blog (6/29/15)

The Ohio Senate's Budget Includes Funding for E-Poll Books and Statewide Mailing of Absentee Ballot Applications

The Ohio Senate is on its way to approving funding for electronic poll books and a statewide mailing of absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in 2016.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 8, 2015

Statement from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted

COLUMBUS Regarding the Ohio Senate Leadership’s announcement today that funding for electronic pollbooks (e-pollbooks) and the statewide mailing of absentee ballot applications has been included in their version of the state budget, all of the following may be attributed to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted:

“I want to commend Senate President Keith Faber and his leadership team for their ongoing commitment to reinforcing our system of elections by providing funding for important technology and services that will continue to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio.

“E-pollbooks have proven to be a valuable tool for the 19 counties that currently use them, benefiting both poll workers and voters by streamlining the check-in process on Election Day. It cuts wait times and makes voting even easier.

“The inclusion of funding for the statewide mailing of absentee ballot applications not only ensures uniformity and that all voters are treated equally and fairly, but it also greatly reduces the chance of long lines on Election Day.

“Ohio has one of the best elections systems in the nation, due in part to the ongoing effort to improve and innovate how we run elections. Today’s announcement by Senate President Faber and his team means a better experience on Election Day for everyone involved once passed.”

Additional Information

E-pollbooks

E-pollbooks eliminate the need for poll workers to flip through bulky printed pollbooks to locate a voter. Instead, when a voter arrives at a polling location to cast a ballot, e-pollbooks allow elections officials to quickly and accurately pull up the voter’s information by either entering their name or by simply scanning an identification card, like a driver’s license. Counties already using e-pollbooks (map available here) have reported a decrease in the amount of time it takes for a voter to check in at a polling location. For example, elections officials in Montgomery County have indicated that prior to using e-pollbooks, the average check-in time for voters was 2-3 minutes. Using e-pollbooks, the county was able to cut the wait time by 80 percent to an average of 30 seconds during the 2012 Presidential Election.

Statewide Mailing of Absentee Ballot Applications

The 2016 General Election will mark the third time the Secretary of State’s Office – all under Secretary Husted’s leadership – has sent out absentee ballot applications. The first two mailings took place during the 2012 and 2014 General Elections. The mailing of absentee ballot applications statewide has helped to avoid long lines at the polls on Election Day. In fact, during the 2012 General Election one out of every three voters cast an absentee ballot – a state record – and national studies reported average wait times of approximately 11 minutes. 

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For more information, please contact Joshua Eck at (614) 466-2729.



For more information on e-pollbooks...

Senators join to provide new elections technology The Daily Advocate (06/09/15)

Electronic pollbooks a possible solution to long lines on Election Day The Columbus Dispatch (06/09/15)

For more information on the budget...