Ohio's elections chief Wednesday gave the state legislature formal recommendations for changing the state's elections law. While some suggestions apparently would improve the electoral process in Ohio, more information is needed about other proposals.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has noble goals with the recommendations. Brunner would like to save county boards of elections money and make casting ballots easier for voters and poll workers.
For example, Brunner wants to reduce the number of provisional ballots cast and then discarded. Her proposal would allow certain votes to count if a voter casts a ballot in the wrong precinct but the correct county. In short, that elector's decisions regarding countywide, statewide and/or national issues and candidates might count, but the ballot would not impact tallies in some local races.
She also recommends expanding the number of in-person early voting locations - now, that's limited to board of election offices - and aligning Ohio's in-person early voting period with other states. She also proposes shortening the period for in-person early voting to 20 days before a general election.
That seems reasonable.
But Brunner also recommends requiring voters to show either a government-issued photo ID - such as a driver license - or two IDs that confirm the voter's name. Now, a voter can use a variety of means - such as a utility bill - to confirm his or her identity to a poll worker.
This change would shift the focus to verifying a voter's identity, but not his or her address. While verifying identity is an important step in averting voter fraud, it also stops short of making sure people reside where they cast their votes.
At a time when relaxed rules regarding early voting - in Ohio and other states - increases the potential for a person to cast more than one ballot, confirmation of a voter's identification - and place of residence - is an important safeguard.