Secretary Brunner's Elections Recommendations In New Report

 
Secretary Brunner’s Elections Recommendations In New Report

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009



COLUMBUS, April 22, 2009. After two elections summit conferences, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has released a report, “Elections Enhancements for Ohio“, outlining her office’s legislative recommendations on subjects ranging from in-person absentee voting to the voter registration database. Brunner also recommended that special primaries be eliminated, saving boards of elections millions of dollars.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner released Wednesday to Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio General Assembly a cost-effective blueprint for enhancing Ohio’s elections. The recommendations resulted from a several months-long bipartisan process, including the Ohio Elections Summit and Conference. The Secretary of State’s report, “Elections Enhancements for Ohio,” draws heavily from the final report from Mr. Lawrence Norden from the Brennan Center for Justice, as well as specific recommendations from the Ohio Association of Elections Officials, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, and experienced elections administrators with the Secretary of State’s office.

“I am convinced that the recommendations presented in this report are a means to build on the successes of the 2008 presidential election while enhancing election administration for the future. Thanks to a deliberative, months-long process, we were able to develop broad, bipartisan agreement on a host of vital elections enhancements for Ohio,” Secretary Brunner said.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT “ELECTIONS ENHANCEMENTS FOR OHIO”

“Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has been a leader on the issue of election reform. Her approach, through a bipartisan and comprehensive elections summit and conference and working with election officials, has led to recommendations for real change.”

-Tom McCabe, Director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections

“Election reform must be thoughtful and deliberate. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is to be commended for her leadership in partnering with the respected Brennan Center for Justice, elections officials and many others on this report. It should be given strong consideration by Gov. Ted Strickland and legislative leaders.”

-Sally Krisel, Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections

“The format of the Elections Conference was open and honest in the best tradition of a transparent process. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner brought together experts from the elections world, academics, lawmakers and others to create an incubator for positive change.”

-Kelly Pallante, Director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections

“As she has with many of her efforts, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s Elections Conference showed that a transparent process works. Her work with the Brennan Center for Justice shows that true election reform must be borne out of a comprehensive and bipartisan process.”

-Betty L. McGary, Director of the Butler County Board of Elections

“The Elections Summit and Elections Conference organized by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner have given us a great opportunity to inspire support of election improvements and innovations for the enhancement of future elections in Ohio.”

-Dale H. Fellows, Member, Lake County Board of Elections.

“The Elections Conference that was held in March was a continuation of trying to look at how to streamline the elections process while maintaining the integrity of the election system and increasing voter participation.”

-Duane Feher, Deputy Director of the Ashtabula County Board of Elections

HIGHLIGHT OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Cost saving measures for boards of elections. Move special elections to primary or general election days, saving taxpayers an estimated $2.7-5.4 million per year. Allow the use of vote-by-mail for vacancy in office special elections. Explore measures such as limiting state issue ballot language length, creating buying pools for elections materials, and implementing a voting centers pilot project.

Enhancements for the Statewide Voter Registration Database. Finalize a new voter registration matching process with the Ohio BMV and the SSA. Provide counties with a form of access to relevant nonmatches, with rules prescribing their treatment of relevant nonmatches. Specify that a nonmatch could not, on its own, be the basis for disenfranchising a voter.

Streamline Ohio’s voter ID laws. Bring Ohio into line with other states by focusing voter ID on verification of identity, not address. In particular, allow either an official photo ID or two non-photo IDs for voting purposes, a change that will provide both voters and poll workers with greater certainty and predictability in administering voter ID laws.

Offer annual vote-by-mail ballot requests. Decrease the administrative burden on boards of elections by creating an annual vote-by-mail ballot request form.

Expand the number of in-person early voting locations and align Ohio’s in-person early voting period with other states. Decrease the period for in-person early voting to 20 days before a general election, while increasing the number of locations allowed from one to four. End early voting no earlier than 5:00 p.m. the Sunday before Election Day.

Streamline provisional balloting. Limit the reasons voters are required to vote a provisional ballot and increase the instances where that ballot is counted. Modify the wrong precinct rule by allowing any ballot cast anywhere in a county to be remade and counted if cast by an eligible voter.