COLUMBUS — State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, and Beth Liston, D-Dublin, on Wednesday introduced House Bill 560, legislation that would create a universal vote-by-mail system in Ohio.
“I’m absolutely convinced this system will alleviate the persistent problems that have plagued Ohio’s electoral process for far too long,” Lepore-Hagan said in a news release.
“Those problems were brought into sharp focus by the events surrounding the postponement of the March 17 primary. Had UVBM been in place, the election would have proceeded without incident. Instead, we’re in the midst of a constitutional and legal crisis involving one of our most sacred rights: the right to vote. HB 560 is not an expansion of Ohio’s current vote-by-mail system. It’s a new, more secure, more accessible vote-by-mail system.”
Under the proposed legislation, voters would be able to cast ballots by mail by depositing them in secure drop boxes, Voter Service and Polling Centers, or the Board of Elections office in the county. Voters also would be able to cast ballots in person at VSPCs or BOE offices. Each paper ballot would carry a unique bar code that the voter could track electronically, and all ballots would be subject to a signature authentication process. Election fraud would be a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“Universal vote-by-mail has increased voter participation and election security in the states that have implemented it,” Lepore-Hagan said. “HB 560 is a roadmap that will lead Ohio toward a stronger democracy and brighter future.”