The Post, 9/13

In just a few short weeks, Ohio will once again be having an Election Day for our citizens to voice their views on a variety of candidates and issues. I continue to believe that voting is one of our most sacred privileges in America. As a result, the Ohio House has seen and debated an array of legislation affecting our state election laws.

An issue that is chronically brought to the surface every time Election Day rolls around is the ability--or inability--of our nation's military members and overseas voters to fairly cast their ballots. For this reason, the legislature voted and passed House Bill 224, Ohio's Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act. Through this bill, we have chosen to implement important flexibilities that will assist those who are overseas to exercise their right to vote.

For instance, in a world with heightened technology, this legislation allows a uniformed services or overseas voter the ability to request an absentee ballot by e-mail. If the board of elections offers this through Internet delivery, they can take advantage of that option, as well.

It also requires boards of elections to accept and process federal write-in absentee ballots for all elections. This includes ballots for federal, state and local offices, as well as all ballot questions and issues. Under the new legislation, when the military member or overseas voters submit a federal write-in absentee ballot, he or she can also use the declaration that accompanies it in order to apply for voter registration simultaneously, easing the process for these individuals.

Finally, the Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act sets up an emergency process in the event of an international, national, state or local level emergency. If such an emergency makes substantial compliance with the federal absentee voting law impossible or impracticable, there is a system in place for military and overseas voters to cast a ballot.

This important piece of legislation was introduced by Rep. Mike Dovilla of Berea, who as an officer in the Navy, had his own troubles voting while stationed overseas. Throughout the legislative process, it received strong support from both sides of the aisle.

I'm confident that as Ohio moves forward with its elections, we will be pleased to know that those who are trying to vote while serving overseas will not face any hindrance in doing so.


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