Allow online voter registration

Despite significant changes during the past decade in how elections are handled in Ohio, relatively few people seem to be trying to cheat the system. That should ease Buckeye State residents’ minds regarding another proposed update: online voter registration.

Balloting last fall produced little evidence of vote fraud in the form of complaints by candidates and/or political parties. Yet Secretary of State Jon Husted decided he wanted more than anecdotal evidence of a clean election.

Husted ordered election boards in all 88 counties to review complaints – about both fraud and so-called “voter suppression” – during the November election. The results were gratifying.

Not a single allegation of voter suppression was reported. Meanwhile, vote fraud was minimal. Of 625 situations in which ballots were “red-flagged” because officials suspected fraud, just 135 involved evidence strong enough to be referred for criminal prosecution.

That is less than three-one thousandths of a percent of the total votes cast in the election.

Husted put the situation in perspective. “This report demonstrates that voter fraud does exist, but it is not an epidemic.”

Election board reports did identify some areas of specific concern. For example, it appears 20 people registered to vote in both Ohio and another state cast ballots in both places. Working with voter registration databases maintained by other states, Husted and local officials should crack down on the practice.

Again, the amount of vote fraud last fall appears to have been miniscule.

During the past several years, Ohio has made gigantic strides in improving accessibility to the ballot. Early voting in person and by mail is one example.

Now, Husted and many others believe, it is time to take the next step. Ohioans should be able to register to vote via the Internet, the state’s chief election officer advocates.

He is correct. As he has pointed out, it is easier to check digital voter registration records for accuracy – and fraud – than to do the same with paper applications.

State legislators should consider Husted’s proposal, with emphasis on safeguards against fraud. Given the success of measures to keep elections honest, it appears the time is ripe to allow online voter registration.