The Amendment would enact the Ohio Voters Bill of Rights by amending current Section 1 of Article V of the Ohio Constitution with provisions to include that:
- The right of all Ohio citizens qualified under the Article to cast a ballot and have their votes counted is declared to be a fundamental right.
- A person may cast a ballot at an election as an elector if the person is a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old, registered to vote by the deadline set by law, which may not be more than 30 days before the election, and a resident of the county where seeking to vote.
- The State shall maintain the broadest feasible and accessible means for persons to register and update their registration to vote, including through electronic means. A certificate of registration would be issued whenever a person registered or updated their registration to vote.
- Voting shall be by secret ballot. Every elector may vote on election day between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at a convenient designated polling location. More than one such location where an elector may vote may be designated by local election authorities.
- In lieu of voting on the day of an election, electors shall be permitted to vote in person or by mail during the early voting period, which shall begin 35 days before each election and end on the day before the election for early in person voting and the day of the election for voting by mail. During the early voting period, local election authorities must make ballots available for in person voting during their regular business hours at their office or another location in the county and at other times during the early voting period, which shall include no less than 12 hours across the two days of each of the final two weekends before the date of a general election, 10 hours on each weekday of the final two weeks before each general election, and 12 hours on the last day of voter registration for an election. Local election authorities shall have the discretion to expand the hours of early in person voting for an election and to designate multiple locations for early in person voting based on the identified needs of their counties, including making in person early voting convenient and easily accessible for working and non-working electors.
- The State must make applications to vote by mail generally available, including electronically. An elector may return a completed and signed application to the appropriate election authority by electronic or non-electronic means. A ballot returned by mail shall be timely if postmarked by election day and received by the appropriate election authority no later than 10 days after the election. An elector who applies for a vote by mail ballot may also choose to cast a provisional ballot on election day, but such ballot shall not be counted if the elector’s vote by mail ballot is timely received by the appropriate election authority.
- An elector who chooses to cast a ballot in person during the early voting period or on election day, if required by law to verify his/her identity, may do so, with: the last 4 digits of his/her social security number, a current Ohio driver’s license or license number, current U.S. Passport or passport number, current photo identification, utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck, or any current form of identification issued to the person by the State, a political subdivision or instrumentality of the State, the federal government, a branch of the U.S. Military, or a public or private institution of higher education, or any other form of identification authorized by the State for voting identification purposes. If an elector is unable to provide any of these forms of identification at the time of voting, he/she shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot after signing an affirmation under penalty of election falsification attesting to his/her identity, which shall be counted if the elector submits or causes to be submitted one of the authorized forms of identification to the appropriate election authority no later than 10 days after the election. Federal election law does not permit certain of these forms of ID to be used to verify a voter’s identity in a federal election if the person registered by mail and has not previously voted in a federal election.
- If an elector casts a ballot using a method and at a time authorized under this Article, the ballot shall not be rejected for a reason attributable in whole or part to poll worker or election official error. Laws must be enacted to minimize the potential for such errors.
- If an elector marks his/her ballot in such a manner that it may not be properly recorded by tabulation equipment, all votes on such ballot for candidates and issues which the elector is entitled to vote upon shall be counted if local election authorities are able to determine the voter’s intent.
- When an elector casts a provisional ballot in person in his/her county, but not in the correct precinct, the ballot shall be counted but only for candidates and issues that the are on the ballot in the precinct where the elector resides.
- A person who is unable to cast a regular ballot at an election shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot after signing an affirmation attesting under penalty of election falsification to his/her qualifications as an elector. The ballot shall be counted if the ballot is cast in the person’s county of residence and his/her qualifications as an elector are verified. A provisional voter shall have up to 10 days following the election to submit or cause to be submitted to the appropriate election authority information necessary to establish his/her qualifications as an elector or to have his/her ballot counted. To facilitate the timely providing of such information, the identity of provisional voters at an election shall be publicly available.
- The State may institute additional reliable means of voting that become available through technological advancements.
- The General Assembly may pass laws expanding and facilitating the voting rights and opportunities guaranteed under this Article, but in no manner denying or limiting them. The State shall not impose any qualification, except as provided in this Article, nor impose a tax, charge or expense, as a condition to voting or registering or updating a registration to vote.
- Any person requesting or casting a ballot who, with the purpose to defraud, impersonates another person or votes more than once in an election, would be guilty of a felony.
The Amendment would repeal and replace the existing language of Section 1 as set forth in the full text attached to this petition. The existing language sets forth qualifications of an elector as being a citizen of the United States, resident of the state, county, township or ward such time as may be established by law and registered for 30 days before the election, and provides that any elector who fails to vote for 4 consecutive years ceases to be an elector unless he again registers to vote. However, this 4 year provision has been superseded by the National Voter Registration
Act of 1993 that provides a person may only be removed from the voter rolls under specific circumstances that include failing to vote at all in any 4 year election cycle that includes 2 federal elections, followed by specific action taken by the state to communicate with the voter.
CERTIFICATION OF ATTORNEY GENERAL
Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred, but pursuant to the duties imposed upon the Attorney General’s Office under Section 3519.01(A) of the Ohio Revised Code, I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment.
Ohio Attorney General
March 10. 2014