Ohio election procedures lacking in the digital age

By Kate Bauer 

I called my county board of elections last week and learned they had not received my initial absentee ballot request. I did have some options, however, and opted to early vote at the Van Wert County Board of Elections last Saturday. As a Millennial voter who is constantly hooked to my laptop and iPhone, I am a bit frustrated that Ohio has not brought their election procedures into the digital age. 

I also looked into the different ways we are able to vote in the United States. Ballotopedia.org created a colored map featuring the different ways in which ballots are cast. Fourteen states, including Ohio, vote on either paper or a Digital Recording Electronic System (with a paper trail). My county solely offers paper voting. I can see perks of all types of voting. As a teacher, I am fully aware that technology has strengths and weaknesses, but I was nervous when filling in my ballot bubbles that there was not enough pencil on the paper for my vote to count. Regardless the way each county chooses to vote, I am just glad to have been given the right to vote. 

This was my first time face-to-face voting for a presidential election, and while I don’t know that my one vote will make a difference one way or another, I was nervous that my ballot would get lost. Online, I think we have a better sense of trust that our vote will get to the correct place, especially given a paper trail to follow it with. When I was done voting, I sealed the envelope and placed it into a large, locked, wooden box on wheels. Nowhere was I told when my ballot was going to be counted, or if it was going to end up at the right place. I felt strange just dropping this envelope into a box when voting in this election means so much to me. 

Registering to vote in the state of Ohio also seems to be behind many other states in the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “as of June 14, 2016 a total of 31 states offer online voter registration.” Ohio really dropped the ball on this one. As a critical swing state, it is insane to me that such a simple process could not be completed online. Again, this process would be more simplified. As with the ballot request process, one would no longer have to rely on the USPS to deliver the request form to the correct location by the cutoff date. 

Another thing I missed when voting in person was the ability to research those running for office. In the past, when I was unsure who the individuals were running for senate or the state Board of Education, I was able to complete a simple Google search to decipher which candidate I would like to cast my vote for. Something I did to research prior to voting was to do a web search regarding who I was going to vote for. Despite this, though, I felt like I was studying for a test as opposed to voting for a state representative. 

Overall, I am happy to have been able to cast my vote for President of the United States, as out-of-date as the process is. This election was a rollercoaster ride including several ups and downs. Conveniently, holiday commercials will be there fill the void the political ads will have left.

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