An On-line Op-Ed
Gregory T. Moore
As Ohio’s state and county election officials plan and prepare to administer the 2020 elections, it is important for Ohio voters, voting rights and community advocates to increase their visibility and awareness of the key election administration issues that will have a profound impact on the critical upcoming elections. While some members of the Ohio General Assembly are advancing misguided and preconceived notions of widespread voter fraud, the real battle for promoting election integrity is taking place in states as they are increasingly moving to advance Automatic or automated voter registration reforms, aka AVR.
After many years of legislative, legal and administrative wrangling, the state of Ohio is now ripe for a statewide grassroots effort to modernize its election systems once and for all, by enacting Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) this year in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
Additionally, there could be no better time to place an emphasis on building confidence in the election process among voters in Ohio. This is particularly the case in African American, People of Color and low income communities where voting disenfranchisement has had its greatest impact as the result of the constantly changing election laws.
In light of the revelations over Russian and other nefarious actors meddling in the 2016 presidential election, federal and Congressional investigations are revealing that these actions took place well in advance of Election Day. As the revelations continue to unfold, there is a growing need to construct safeguards and initiatives that will help rebuild the confidence of voters participating in the election process.
AVR is one of the most effective bi-partisan remedies for institutionalizing the most effective election administration. AVR can also be an effective tool for restoring confidence in our electoral administration system among a new generation of voters who may have lost confidence in the voting process. There are many benefits to enacting AVR in Ohio:
There is bi-partisan agreement among election officials for improved safeguards in election administration to guard against cyber and other nefarious partisan threats. Therefore a special effort needs to be undertaken to ensure that AVR legislation is promoted in Ohio as a bi-partisan voting modernization initiative that will advance voter participation in all sectors of the state, including both urban and rural areas.
AVR is the best tool to encourage - and not discourage - continued and increased voter participation as the best weapon against efforts to undermine voter engagement from both without and within our country. In the past few years Ohio has taken great steps to advance Democracy through redistricting reform at the state and federal levels. Both initiatives passed in 2015 and 2018 with overwhelming support from across the state of Ohio. AVR and methods to make voting easier will almost certainly enjoy that same level of support in 2019.
The need for AVR is made even more evident in light of the revelations about the challenges and questions of reliability of our aging voting systems. Thankfully, in 2018 long overdue federal funding from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was granted to states to assist in upgrading state election administration including the adoption of new federal voting systems guidelines. The addition of AVR, coupled with the new funds and machine upgrades will help resolve many of the Election Day voting issues that too many Ohio voters have faced in precious elections.
Finally, advancing AVA in Ohio will make clear the importance and urgency of taking the above steps in light of the serious issues that have been raised regarding foreign and other intrusions into the U.S. electoral process and of making sure that our federal, state and local election systems are modernized and secured. In short enacting AVR should be a top priority for the new Secretary of State and all elected officials in Columbus.
The Ohio Legislature would be wise to move quickly to advance AVR legislation during this session of the 133rd General Assembly while there is still time to administratively implement the changes before the 2020 presidential primaries. If so Ohio can once again be seen as a leader in advancing Democracy and greater participation among its citizens. For more information on AVR visit https://modernelections.org/
Gregory T. Moore, Founder of the Ohio Voter Fund, is a nationally recognized voting rights advocate and author of the upcoming book Fulfilling the Broken Promise of Democracy.