Ohio Budget Provision Limits Voter Education Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new provision added to the state budget by Republican lawmakers bans Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) from conducting a series of voter education efforts that successfully recruited new voters last year. The budget item, signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, states that “No public official that is responsible for administering or conducting an election in this state shall collaborate with…a nongovernmental person or entity for any costs or activities related to voter registration, voter education, voter identification, get-out-the-vote, absent voting, election official recruitment or training, or any other election-related purpose.”

Under this provision, churches, businesses and sports teams will not be allowed to collaborate with county Boards of Election on get-out-the-vote and voter education efforts. The secretary of state will similarly be limited in their ability to run collaborative voting programs with local businesses, such as the “Raise a Glass for Democracy” and “Styling for Democracy” campaigns that LaRose organized with breweries and barber shops to get voters registered during the pandemic last year. 

Democrats are looking to repeal the provision before next year’s elections after DeWine ignored calls from voting rights activists to veto the budget item before his signing. LaRose plans to keep running his voter education programs, stating that he did not interpret the new law as making these efforts illegal. “And if somebody wants to challenge my ability to do that, well then I guess we’ll see them in court,” LaRose said.

Read the provision here.