Ohio AG rejects driver’s license voter registration amendment language

By Marc Kovac



Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected the initial paperwork from backers of a proposed constitutional amendment requiring automatic voter registrations with driver’s-license applications and renewals.

The backers now will have to resubmit language as part of their petition effort.

In a letter to the petitioners, DeWine wrote that the Ohio Motor Voter Automatic Registration Amendment, as initially written, was misleading. Specifically, DeWine noted the language could be interpreted to be opening the door for 16-year-olds to vote.

“The amendment can be read to direct the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to automatically register that 16-year-old to vote,” the attorney general wrote. “This is a materially different impact than that explained by the summary, which would only register those persons currently eligible to vote.”

State law requires voters to “be of the age of 18 years or more at the next ensuring November election.”

The proposed amendment would register new voters and update current ones, unless residents opt out in writing.

A summary of the amendment notes that bureaus of motor vehicles already are required to ask whether patrons want to register to vote or change their voter status. The amendment would make the registrations mandatory.

Groups wanting to circulate petitions to place issues before voters must first obtain approvals from the attorney general’s office and the state ballot board.

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