Columbus — Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said Jan. 14 he’ll continue to push to allow Ohioans to register electronically to vote and for a system that will enable those casting ballots by mail to track their submissions online.
Husted offered the recommendations during the winter conference of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, where he recapped election-related accomplishments of the last year and gave a snapshot of some of his priorities in advance of the 2016 presidential contest.
Husted continued to call for state lawmakers to pass legislation to allow voters to register online. Eligible residents already can update their information via the secretary of state’s website.
More than half of voters nationally can register online, he said, adding that his early discussions about the issue with lawmakers have been more promising than past sessions.
“My early conversations have been a bit more optimistic than I would have said they were in the past,” he said.
Husted also wants to enable Ohioans to track their mail-in absentee ballots online, a way to ensure their submissions are received by boards of elections.
The state already provides ballot tracking for military voters, and some counties provide the service for their residents.
Husted said he hoped the move would “add that level of confidence for people that are maybe nervous about the mail. ... You can track this, you can find out that it came into your board of elections and that’s it’s been received and counted. ... You can now know exactly where your ballot is in the process.”
Among other comments, Husted directed county election boards to report any voting irregularities from last year’s general election to his office. That process should include public hearings enabling anyone alleging or offering evidence of voter fraud or suppression.
Husted directed a comparable review following elections in 2012 “and found zero cases of suppression,” he said. “And when it came to voter fraud, we found that it exists, but it’s rare and that when we find it, violators will be held accountable.”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.