The House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee will be meeting in Room 116 this Tuesday to discuss two Republican voting bills:

Republican State Senator Bill’s Coley’s SB 205 prevents the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications to Ohioans during primary and special elections, and only allows ballots to be sent during a general election if the General Assembly approves funding for the ballots, which they’ll likely never do.   It also prevents any other official besides the Secretary of State from mailing ballot applications.   

Secretary of State Jon Husted mailed absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in Ohio during the 2012 presidential election. Almost 1.3 million Ohioans cast an absentee ballot that November.  Coley’s bill, if passed, will ultimately end up seeing fewer people voting overall, fewer people voting absentee and more people likely voting in person.

Which is interesting, because Republican State Senator Joe Uecker’s bill, SB 200, will actually lowers the number of voting machines a county must have available for an election based on the number of votes cast in recent presidential election years.    Uecker’s bill changes the current formula, which is based on the total number of voters in two most recent presidential elections, by requiring counties to subtract the number of absentee voters from this number.

Given the huge number of absentee ballots cast in 2012, and with Coley’s bill likely to increase the number of people voting in person, voting machine shortages around the state could again become a familiar sight around our state for the next 7 years.

Later in the day, the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform Committee will be meeting (at 3:15 pm) in the South Hearing Room to discuss two more voting bills.

Republican State Senator Frank LaRose’s bill, SB 238, aims to cut six days off the beginning of the early voting schedule in Ohio.   This bill would not only reduce the number of early voting days from 35 to 29, it would also eliminate the so-called golden week when voters can register and vote on the same day.

Bill Seitz’s bill, SB 216, will reduce the period of time, from 10 days to 3 days, a provisional ballot voter has to provide additional information to their local BOE to get their vote counted.