By Marc Kovac
Two Democratic lawmakers are introducing legislation to create a study committee to improve the way the state updates voter registration information.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent, D-68th, and Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland, D-25th, said the proposed law changes are needed to ensure voter address information changed through the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles is forwarded to county boards of elections more quickly.
Both have voiced concern the BMV and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted are failing to meet federal Motor Voter requirements and potentially hampering eligible residents from casting ballots.
Federal and state laws require the BMV to forward voter registration updates to election officials about a week after they are made, Clyde said. That, however, has not been happening, and thousands of registration changes have been sent to local election officials shortly before the general election and next week’s primary.
“Sending months worth of data involving thousands of Ohio voters again just before Election Day on May 7 sends our Ohio election officials scrambling,” Clyde said. “Boards of election workers will have to work overtime to update these registrations, and counties will have to pay to reprint thousands of precinct poll books because of this mistake.”
Clyde and Turner offered comparable study commission amendments during budget debates earlier this year, but they were rejected in the Republican-controlled chambers.
Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said the Motor Voter requirements have been in place for decades, but past administrations did not take sufficient steps to address compliance problems in Ohio.
Husted, he said, has taken up the issue.
“Nothing had been done,” McClellan said. “No previous secretary of state or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles had exchanged these records. ... We began working with the BMV to improve the data and get that information shared.”