Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin the end goal is to make sure when voters cast a ballot this fall — whether that’s at a poll, at the board of elections during early voting or at home by mail — they have active and up-to-date registration information.
Alternative ways to push voter registration are needed, he said, since in-person voter registration drives aren’t happening amid the COVID-19 epidemic. There are 248,693 registered Butler County voters, an increase of more than 1,600 from the March primary election and nearly 600 more than the 2016 presidential election.
“I don’t know how it’s going to affect our registration over the summer, but that is a way that people normally register,” he said. “I think it’s good to get the word out and hopefully get people to update their registration so they have a smooth Election Day.”
REGISTER TO VOTE: Ohioans can register to vote online
At the same time, LaRose is facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers who say he should unilaterally take steps to improve access to the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, and Paula Hicks-Hudson, D-Toledo, issued a statement saying the State Controlling Board already gave LaRose broad authority and Congress allocated money for holding elections during the pandemic, including paying for return postage for ballots and applications.
“But when it comes to helping voters by paying the return postage, he claims his hands are tied,” Sweeney said. “While the global pandemic rages on, voters are growing more fearful and he’s playing ‘Mother may I’ with a GOP-led legislature that is uninterested in helping voters.”
Last month the Ohio House voted 61-34 along party lines to block LaRose’s office from prepaying return postage on absentee ballot applications or the ballots themselves. House Bill 680 would also shorten the time allowed for requesting an absentee ballot.
The bill, opposed by voting rights groups, is now pending in the Ohio Senate.
LaRose this week also issued a directive to county boards of election requiring that they use $13.6 million in federal money to strengthen cyber security, share information with federal and state partners, conduct criminal background checks on election board employees, prepare for emergencies, and provide accommodations for voters with disabilities.
RELATED: Ohio elections officials say vote-by-mail changes everything
The League of Women voters welcomes the use of artificial intelligence and other security measures to help boards of election maintain the integrity of the voting process, said Susan Hesselgesser, executive director League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area.
“It is especially helpful to have the funding provided by the secretary of state to ensure this additional security will be in place throughout the State of Ohio,” she said. “With so many questions already surrounding the 2020 Election due to COVID-19, it is good news for voters to know this election will be secure regardless of how they decide to cast their vote.”
Corbin sees in-person Election Day voting being down compared to previous presidential elections as more will decide to vote early, either at the county board of elections or by mail. For those concerned about in-person voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, “the best thing we can do this year is to make sure voters trust the vote-by-mail system — which has many security measures in place to protect votes — because that’s really going to be the safest way,” he said.
How to register: You can register online by visiting VoteOhio.gov. You can also download an application, print it, and mail it to your county board of elections.
When to register: To vote in the Nov. 3 election, you must be registered by Oct. 5.
Who can register: U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old on or before the next general election, and a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before the election.
Should I check my voter registration?: Yes. You can do so here: https://voterlookup.ohiosos.gov/voterlookup.aspx
Documents needed to register online: Ohio driver's license or state ID with number; name; date of birth; address; last four digits of your Social Security number.