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Dayton Community Gathers To Learn About Ohio Election Bill

The exterior of the Montgomery County Administration Building and the Board of Election offices.
Alejandro Figueroa
Montgomery County Administration Building and the Board of Election offices.

A bill under consideration in the Ohio House would make some big changes to state election laws.

The Ohio Election Security and Modernization Act, or House Bill 294, was introduced to the Ohio House in May of this year by Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati and Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth.

Some of the proposed changes in HB294 include changing early voting rules, pushing back absentee ballot deadlines, removing early in-person voting the day before Election Day and allowing people to request their absentee ballots online.

Last week, about twenty people gathered on the second floor of the downtown Dayton Metro Library to learn about the bill.

The event was hosted by the Greater Dayton Young Democrats, and featured a presentation by Sarah Greathouse, the Deputy Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Greathouse said the Ohio Association of Election Officials doesn’t support or oppose the bill. But she says some provisions, such as limiting the availability of dropboxes, should be reconsidered.

“The Ohio Association of Elections Officials would prefer to see that dropbox available to every voter throughout the early voting period,” Greathouse said. “Right now [Bill] 294 only provides for 10 days during the early voting period. And we're just afraid that that's going to lead to confusion.”

The bill proposes to limit the number of dropboxes to three per county, all of which have to be located near the board of elections premises. It also proposes to make the dropboxes available 10 days before an election.

The bill still has a long way to go. Greathouse says the most important thing voters can do is to stay active and reach out to their elected officials with their concerns.

“There is so much fear and concern and disinformation and misinformation about elections. One of the things that all of us elections officials in Ohio are working really hard to do is to speak to as many communities as possible,” Greathouse said. “We know without a doubt that we provide secure, accurate, fair and efficient elections.”

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America. He particularly covers the efforts by local organizations and government agencies to address a problem that has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.