Tuesday, September 06, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Bringing Ohio’s Elections Up To Date" by St. Rep. John Adams

St. Rep. John Adams
By State Representative John Adams

Most of us can remember the 2008 elections, when it seemed there were many mishaps taking over the news cycle, such as allegations of fraud, the role of ACORN and the “golden week” period, when a person could register to vote and cast a vote in the same day. Many Ohioans came away from that election, regardless of who was victorious, feeling that something had to be done to reform the election system and ensure that votes were counted in a fair way.
Yet the Democrats who took over the Ohio House following that election refused to acknowledge the problem and show leadership on the issue. The sanctity of the vote is something that the state legislature has an obligation to protect. That is why the Ohio House set out to reform some of our state’s election laws with the passage of House Bill 194.
Although you will inevitably hear those who are resistant to change or modernizing our elections crying foul and skewing the nature of this bill, the truth is that this bill is a long-overdue effort to strengthen Ohio’s elections process and improve accessibility. It does not, as many Democrats have claimed, disenfranchise voters or any of the other misrepresentations that they have recently been spreading; this is just another attempt by Ohio’s Democrats to distort debates on this bill. This is a common-sense initiative to bring Ohio’s elections into the 21st century and utilize the modern technologies at our fingertips.
This legislation does everything from ensuring that polling locations are accessible for those with disabilities to taking advantage of the latest technology without jeopardizing the security of the vote. Inefficiencies and problems should have no place in our Election Day. Using such technology, addressing incidences of fraud, and streamlining operations will help our elections meet the needs of a fast-paced, contemporary society like ours.
A large chunk of House Bill 194 is geared toward ensuring that there are consistent standards regarding elections across the state, rather than doing things differently from county to county. The use of provisional and absentee ballots is an important area where we must be consistent so to not disenfranchise votes. Not only does this legislation amend the verification procedures for these ballots, but it also reduces the number of reasons that a person would have to vote provisionally, rather than fill out a regular ballot. Clarifying the process increases accountability and helps our citizens feel better about their votes.
Additionally, the election reform will allow voters to change their address online for the first time, which is quick and convenient for those of us who are already registered. It also authorizes the use and certification of electronic poll books while increasing the accuracy of the rolls. Pinpointing poll worker error and making the times and locations of voting more uniform across the board are important aspects of the legislation, as well.
With so many of the provisions developed in this election reform law, we are making the needed changes to ensure fair and honest elections in the most efficient way. Casting a vote is one of the most important things we can do as Americans, and I’m pleased that the House Republicans have stepped up and led in protecting this right.