COLUMBUS -- Ohioans will be able to verify and change their voter registration addresses online, through a new system unveiled by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted Thursday.
Eligible voters have about two months to log into the website (www.myohiovote.com) to check their residential information and make any changes prior to the registration deadline for the November presidential election in order to avoid having to cast a provision ballot. The latter are required for voters who do not have required proof of residency or where there are discrepancies in registration information and are counted after Election Day if voters' information can be verified.
"Let's face it: People have become accustomed to using eBay, Paypal, banking online, making travel registrations," Husted said. "It's a system that is something that we do in our daily lives ... and voters will be very comfortable and frankly have come to expect these kinds of services."
Voters will have to provide their driver's license number, birth date and last four digits of their Social Security numbers in order to use the new online system. They also can print change of address forms to mail directly to elections officials.
Husted said the system is more secure and accurate than the current paper process, and he said the advanced address verifications could end up saving county elections boards between 50 cents and $1.50 per voter.
"The more voters that do this and keep their information up to date, that means the more accurate our voter rolls will be ... and the less susceptible the system is to confusion or fraud on Election Day," Husted said.
Similar systems are in place in about 10 other states, he said.
"This, we believe, will be a much more convenient process," Husted said, adding later, "This will dramatically improve the accuracy of the process. That's been the experience of the others secretaries of states in the other states that we've looked at."
Voters who arrive at polling places with proper identification, with different names or addresses than what is on record or for other reasons cast provisional ballots. Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said one of the main reasons provisionals are cast is due to incorrect address information. In this year's presidential primary, about half of 20,000 provisional ballots cast were due to out-of-date addresses. About 130,000 of 207,000 cast in the 2008 general election were due to addresses.
"A lot of that could have been avoided," McClellan said.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials is backing the new online address change system.
"While not full blown on-line registration, today's announcement moves us farther down the path to complete automation," the group's president, Llyn McCoy, said in a released statement, adding, "It is incumbent upon election officials to accommodate voters as best we can. This is a simple and easy way to modernize our elections system, and prepare for November's election."
Husted said he also supports allowing voters to register online, a move that has not yet been OK'd by lawmakers.
It "would make our system more accessible and more secure," he said. "I think it's an important priority for continuing to improve Ohio's election system, and I will pursue that for the future."