Rep Stinziano Pushes For Paperless Online Voter Registration

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Citing voter convenience, cost savings for taxpayers, and increased security for elections, Rep Michael Stinziano, the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, offered testimony this week in support of House Bill 78 which would create a paperless online voter registration system in Ohio.

H B 78, sponsored by Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat, would require Ohio’s secretary of state to create a paperless online voter registration system that would allow qualified Ohio citizens to be able to register to vote or to change their voter registration information online.

“We currently pay our bills online, manage our bank accounts online, and even file our tax returns online, yet we don’t let citizens register to vote online,” Stinziano said.  “Giving Ohioans an easier way to register to vote and update their registration information will significantly reduce the number of citizens who by law are required to cast a provisional ballot, thereby reducing a significant burden on our election officials, saving taxpayer dollars, and improving the integrity of elections in Ohio.”   

In 2012, the Secretary of State’s online change of address system allowed more than 106,000 Ohio voters to update their addresses between August 9th and the close of voter registration, but not to register to vote.

"This will move Ohio's voter registration system into the 21st Century by allowing qualified citizens to register to vote and update their registration through a paperless, online registration," said Stinziano. "I encourage my colleagues to support this common-sense bill."

If Stinziano’s bill passes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures , Ohio would join  19 other states across the political spectrum, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia,  Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia which allow paperless registration.  Fourteen other states are currently considering the legislation, including Texas and Pennsylvania, where bills have passed in the Senate.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona first implemented paperless online voter registration in 2002, and has reported success with their program.  The Arizona secretary of state reports that more than 70 percent of all voter registrations are now performed online, and that the state saw an increase of 9.5 percent in voter registration from 2002 to 2004 with the implementation of online registration.

Arizona also reports cost savings by eliminating the data entry process for state and county employees that a paper-based system requires, as well as increased accuracy in its voter rolls.  The costs associated with a paper registration were 83 cents per registration, while the cost of an online registration was only 3 cents according to a 2010 Arizona report.

Paperless online voter registrations require a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number.  The inclusion of this information in all online registration allows for quick and accurate checks for duplicate records.

Stinziano’s measure requires state agencies to provide information to the secretary of state necessary to maintain Ohio’s voter registration database.

Stinziano’s bill is pending in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.