COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new tool unveiled Thursday in the presidential battleground of Ohio allows registered voters to update their addresses online, an option that was included in a contentious election law but later stripped.
The option available through Secretary of State Jon Husted's website should improve registration accuracy and security, save money by reducing the workload at elections offices and help voters meet the requirement of being registered at their current addresses 30 days before an election, Husted said.
It also could help voters cast regular ballots instead of provisional ballots, which must be verified for eligibility, because outdated addresses are the most common reason people use provisional ballots, he said. His office estimated 130,000 voters used provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election because of address problems.
About 660 voters used the website to update their addresses in the first five hours after Husted's announcement, his office said.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials, a bipartisan group representing county elections board members and directors, praised the online option.
"It is something numerous voters have expressed an interest in, and I'm pleased to see it in place," Llyn McCoy, the association's president, said in a statement. "While not full-blown online registration, today's announcement moves us farther down the path to complete automation."
Husted said he considers the online process, developed internally by his office, to be more secure and more accurate than the existing change-of-address paper process.
"People will still have the same ability to do this as they always have through the paper system, but this, we believe, will be a much more convenient process," he said.
Ten other states have similar provisions, Husted said.
Some lawmakers want Ohio to take it a step further by allowing not just updates but full voter registration to be completed online.
"I applaud the Secretary of State's attempt to make it easier for registered voters to update their registration information, hopefully resulting in fewer provisional ballots," Democratic state Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard of Columbus.
Ohio voters seeking to change an address online will have to provide four pieces of information -- last name, driver's license number, date of birth and final four digits of their Social Security number -- that match the information shared in the state voter registration database and records for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Voters who can't meet that requirement can use the website to print a registration or change-of-address form to submit by mail.
Oct. 9 is the voter registration deadline for Ohio's next major election. Residents will cast ballots Nov. 6 in one of the country's most contested U.S. Senate races and help choose the president.
Ohio Secretary of State: www.MyOhioVote.com
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