I would like to tell you an embarrassing story. Back in 2010, I failed to vote in my first congressional election. I was a freshman at Ohio Wesleyan University and though I was excited to vote, I was extremely busy with classes and my work study job.
When I received my absentee ballot, I hurriedly filled it out without properly following the instructions. My schedule full, I ran out of time to request a replacement ballot or register in Delaware. So, I didn’t vote.
I still cringe a little at the memory. Proudly defying the stereotype about young people, I consider voting extremely important. That’s why I support House Bill 14, which would automatically register Ohioans to vote.
Adult citizens would register when they get a drivers’ license or state ID card, if they have received veterans’ or disability services or public assistance via the Department of Job and Family Services and when students in public and private schools turn 18.
Six states have already enacted automatic voter registration and 20 more are considering it.
Automatic voter registration will not force people to register to vote. They can choose to opt out, if they don’t want to register.
President Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” resonated with many people, because they felt that politicians didn’t represent them. When voter registration rules are overly difficult and confusing, it can dissuade people from exercising their right to participate in the decisions politicians make about their lives.
Automatic voter registration will increase voter participation, which means we all have a voice in governmental decisions.
The right to vote should be accessible to every eligible citizen and it shouldn’t be harder than it needs to be. Voting is a crucial part of American democracy and we in Ohio have the chance to demonstrate our commitment to this foundation of America itself.
— M.J. Eckhouse
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