Election Day 2012 really isn't as far away as you might think. Just ask President Barack Obama or any of the many Republicans vying to unseat him.
Ohio will be a key battleground state in the presidential election. The state's voting mechanisms should be ready for it - and that will require some changes. State legislators should proceed with them as soon as Ohio's new two-year budget is enacted.
Secretary of State Jon Husted has proposed a package of reasonable, needed reforms. We urge lawmakers to consider them in the nonpartisan spirit in which Husted developed his proposals.
Among changes Husted recommends:
Shortening the cumbersome 35-day early voting process. Surely voters can get to early voting stations if they are given, say, two weeks.
Eliminating same-day registration and voting. Allowing people to register, then cast ballots within minutes is an open invitation to fraud.
Streamlining the process of registering to vote or changing one's registration. A bill already approved in the state Senate would set up an online process to do that. Providing adequate safeguards are employed, the system should be put in place, at least on a trial basis.
Ohio has taken steps during several years to make voting more convenient. While we are entirely in favor of that - especially in view of the dismally low voter turnout rate - some changes went too far. Again, same-day registration and voting was one.
In other aspects of voting, such as online registration, the Buckeye State is behind the curve. That, too, needs to be remedied.
Many eyes will be on Ohio during the 2012 presidential election. A clean, efficient balloting process is essential if only for that reason. But elections are used to name local and state officials, as well as to decide a variety of local and state issues. That is more reason to enact reforms this year.
Legislators already have begun work on the process. We encourage them to proceed rapidly but prudently.