Column from Speaker Batchelder in the Post Newspapers
Preserving Ohio's fair elections

July 16, 2011

The other day I went to the drug store to buy some medicine, and I was asked to show photo identification before making the purchase. It got me thinking about how often it is that we as Americans are asked to show our ID to verify who we are, our age or what we are doing. It also relates closely to some recent legislation that the Ohio House has been working on.

We have the privilege of exercising our right to vote on a fairly regular basis, from voting on a local levy to voting in a presidential election. As citizens with the right to vote, the ability to make changes within our society lies with us, and true power stems from our people.

To preserve this fundamental right, it's necessary that we revise our state's voting laws and keep up with the technology that has made many other aspects of modern-day life so convenient. As elected officials, protecting the integrity of the democratic process is one of our most important duties. In order to avoid fraud and outdated Election Day rules, the Ohio House has considered a number of reforms.

House Bill 159 is the Fair and Secure Elections Act. It asks that voters present a valid photo ID in order to vote on Election Day or in-person absentee. Not only does the initiative help to verify the identity of each voter, but it is also a common-sense way to safeguard the integrity of our elections and promote voter confidence. In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll showed that 75 percent of likely voters approve of using photo identification in order to vote. This legislation passed from the House in March and is currently awaiting a vote by the Senate.

Meanwhile, the legislature has passed a very comprehensive set of election reforms in House Bill 194 to address shortcomings in the way our state operates elections. Our main focus is to increase accountability, reduce costs, and modernize the process. An example of this includes allowing for online voter registration. It also reduces confusion in regard to provisional and absentee voting by forming statewide standards. With these changes, in addition to a top-down voter registration database and a new verification process for the ballots, we will be restoring reliability and transparency to the system.

I believe that we need to have a strong elections system and that Ohioans will feel confident about it. If Ohioans are not comfortable with the sanctity of their vote, then we have a responsibility to improve the process and do all we can to ensure that lawful, honest votes are not diluted by abuse. Through these simple and straightforward changes, we will have a system that truly reflects the importance of an Ohioans' right to vote.


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