Ohioans can now register to vote online

Austin Rivers, a senior from South Carolina, drops his vote in the ballot box on Tuesday. Ohioans can now register to vote online but you have to have a valid ID. (Photo by Liz Moughon)

Ohio recently became one of the 32 states in which citizens can register to vote online, but only if they have a valid Ohio driver’s license.

The motion, which came into effect on Jan. 1, requires citizens to provide a valid Ohio driver’s license number to ensure the voter registering is who they say they are. The license number allows the government to check voters’ signatures against the signatures provided at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Prior to that measure, registered voters could update their address online since 2013.

“This is going to affect a lot of people, especially college students because we do everything online,” Sam Miller, the president of Ohio University College Democrats said. “That fine print of having the Ohio driver’s license number as the only form of identification is kind of tricky.”

But she said the ability to register online is long overdue.

“It’s a great first step,” she said. “This is just another step in that direction: making it as easy as possible for people to register to vote in the state of Ohio. A lot of other states have already had this process set in place. This is another step in the process of Ohio going toward automatic registration, which is what I would love to see happen with it.”

Out-of-state students living on campus can get around not having an Ohio ID by registering in person. Voters can still register on paper by presenting the last four digits of their Social Security number. The online registration is just another feature to make the process easier,  Joshua Eck, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jon Husted, said.

“National studies have proven that it’s saved a significant amount of money from local governments,” he said. “In addition, it’s much more convenient for voters, and we believe the system is more secure and accurate than paper registration alone.”

The idea of online applications, however, does not appeal to all students. David Boesche, a junior studying philosophy and communications, said he worries about the increased reliance on technology in the American voting process.

“I don’t like the idea of having the direction of the country being put inside of a database, and that can be easily tampered with as we’ve seen in the election,” Boesche said. “For the simplicity of being able to register online, that does make things easier, but there are some concerns that come with that as to the privacy.”

OU College Democrats will educate student voters to ensure every student has a voice in any upcoming elections, Miller said.

“Ohio University College Democrats will make a huge effort to make sure students know they can register to vote here in Ohio,” Miller said.



 Originally published for The Post on Jan. 20, 2017.

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