Ohio NAACP endorses ballot initiative to streamline voting

COLUMBUS (AP) — The state branch of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization endorsed an Ohio ballot initiative that is aimed at streamlining the state’s voting process.

The NAACP’s Ohio Conference on Wednesday announced its backing for the Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections measure.

In a statement, conference president Tom Roberts said the NAACP sees the proposed measure as “a necessary step” to modernizing Ohio elections. Roberts said it fits with the organization’s “long and storied history” of fighting for voter access and expanded opportunities for voters of color and disenfranchised communities.

If voters approve the proposal, Ohioans would be automatically registered to vote when conducting business at state Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices, and early voting locations would have to be open on the two weekends prior to Election Day. That would allow eligible voters to register and vote on the same day.

The requirement that voters be registered during BMV trips, unless they opt out, is also part of pending House and Senate legislation.

Other elements of their proposal would put guarantees in writing that military service members and overseas citizens receive their ballots on time and that voters with disabilities have equal access to the polls.

Twenty-one states plus the District of Columbia have same-day voter registration, and more than a dozen have some type of automated voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections filed paperwork with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Jan. 22.