I am Peg Rosenfield, elections specialist for the League of Women Voters of Ohio.  The League has been working to improve voting and elections and to increase informed voter participation throughout its 85-year history.  I have been involved in these same interests for over 35 years. 

Why are we doing this to the voters of Ohio?  House Bill 3 purports to address election fraud, but there the read fraud, which is not addressed in the bill, is the lack of training and resources provided to precinct and board of elections officials to enable them to enforce current law.  This bill will have the effect of suppressing the vote, the exact opposite of its ostensible goal.  So I hope you will think this subject is as important as we think it is, because I need to point out a number of problems with the bill.
I want to discuss just five of the most serious concerns and address the additional problems and questions in written form only.  First, let’s consider the proposed restrictions on voter registration
Voter Registration

We recognize that some are greatly concerned over the smart alecks who turned in voter registration forms for cartoon characters, but let us keep clearly in mind that this was not voter fraud, that Mickey Mouse did not try to vote, and that in any case the boards of elections caught these smart alecks using current law and procedures.
Yet this bill introduces draconian new procedures that would require anyone helping to register voters - which the League has been doing for 85 years - must register in each county if you plan to register voters from that county, and complete each county’s training, and re-register every year in each county.  So much for attempting to provide voter registration at the state fair.
In addition, if you offer to return the completed registration forms for someone else, you no longer may take the forms to your county board of elections or to the Secretary of State’s office to be forwarded to the appropriate county.  You must new return each form directly to the board of elections of the applicant’s home county.  I guess we no longer want any of our universities providing voter registration forms to their students at registration or a convocation.
If you break any of these rules, you have committed a felony.  That ought to discourage any but the most committed.
[See sections 3503.11(B), 3503.28 (A) (3) - (5), 3503.(B) & (C), 3599.11]

Ohio has for years relied on comparing the voter’s signature on election day with the signature on the voter’s registration.  Because we have very few master forgers attempting to impersonate voters, it works very well - so long as precinct officials are adequately trained to actually compare the signatures.

This bill would impose for the first time a requirement that every voter show identification at every election - not just those voters about whom there is a question, but everyone, every time.  Now, if precinct workers are not sufficiently trained to compare signatures properly, what on earth makes us think they will be sufficiently trained to sort out appropriates forms of identification?
The ID requirements could disenfranchise a number of different kinds of people who are perfectly qualified to vote.  The senior citizen who lives in assisted living, no longer drives or pays bills, whose son pays his expenses; the student who comes to Ohio to attend a private school like Dayton or Case Western or Otterbein, lives in a dorm and has no car or utility bills, uses a parent credit card, but considers Ohio his residence and is legally entitled to vote here; an 18-year-old who can’t prove citizenship when challenged because he was born in Germany while his father was stationed there or was in graduate school there.
This whole ID concern is predicated on the idea that people are voting illegally by impersonating voters.  No, it is not happening; and if it were, the signature comparison would prevent it.  The whole ID problem is a smoke and mirrors sham.
[See sections 3501.01 (AA) (1) - (5), 3505.18, 3505.20]
Provisional Ballot

Provisional ballots were invented to be a “fail-safe” method of preventing mistakes by election officials or bureaucratic hurdles from disenfranchising eligible voters.  If your registration form did not get entered in the poll book or if you moved to a different address without submitting a change of address form, you could vote a provisional ballot, giving the board of elections time to straighten out the records and county your vote.  Boards weren’t too happy with the extra paperwork, but the limited number of provisional ballots turned out to be manageable.

This bill completely subverts the purpose of provisional voting.  Instead of enfranchising more voters, the provisional voting rules that are proposed, together with the ID requirements being proposed, will greatly increase the chances of disenfranchising some and inconveniencing many and imposing a serious additional burden on precinct workers and boards of elections.
[See sections 3503.16 (B) (1), 3503.23 (D), 3505.181, 3505.182]
THE SOLUTION to both of these problems of ID and provisional ballots in contained right in this bill!  Section 3505.22 could provide all that is needed to allay any fears about fraudulent voting.  It is short and simple:

“If any precinct officer has reason to believe that a person is impersonating an elector, that person, before being given a ballot, shall be questioned as to the person’s right to vote, and shall be required to sign the person’s name or make the person’s mark in ink on a card to be provided.  If, in the opinion of a majority of the precinct officers, the signature is not that of the person who signed the name in the registration forms, that person shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot under section 3505.181 of the Revised Code.”

Public Information & Records

It is very troubling to see yet another retreat from public access to information in this bill.  There are 34 places where it is proposed to reduce the number of times various election-related notices are published in newspapers.  Instead of three or four notices, it proposes jst one, plus posting on a web site.  The web site is a fine idea, but it is not a sufficient replacement for two or three publications in newspapers.  Younger people are the ones more likely to use a web site; they are also least likely to vote.  Older people are more likely to read the newspaper; and they are most likely to votes of any age group.  So this change will have a disparate effect on different age groups.  Keep the posting on the web site and require two notices in the newspaper.

The wording in this bill seems to say that we can only see the county or state database to check the accuracy of our voter registrations by going to the board of elections, where we can view a  cleansed” version that doesn’t show Social Security number or other confidential information. These are public records, so why is the database not available on line to everyone?  If it can be made available on line at the board of elections there is no technical reason that it can’t be on line anywhere.  No one needs to give a reason or ID to see it, so make these public records available to the public.
Counts & Recounts

The procedures and rules for counts and recounts seem to be taking several steps backwards.  Deadlines are made hard and fast, but nothing is said about improving procedures to be very sure of a correct count in the official canvass, thereby reducing the questions and suspicions that give rise to the demands for recounts.  The requirement for a 3% random hand count has been omitted, yet this is the best way so far devised for reassuring everyone that it was an honest count.  Simply specifying a deadline does nothing to address the need for fair and efficient procedures.

My remarks today may not all have been timely, for they pertain to a draft version of Sub HB 3, because we were unable to see a copy of the current version being introduced today.  Of course, that means that the members of this committee have not had time to read and consider this current version either.
We have offered repeatedly to meet with the people who were drafting this version of HB 3, but we received no response.  We would like to work with you to discuss our concerns and try to salvage the good provisions that are in the bill before it is sent to the full Senate for consideration.