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Polling Suggests Ohio Voters Favor Easing, Not Tightening Voting Laws

Voters line up outside the Franklin County Board of Elections for early voting on Oct. 6, 2020.
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press
Voters line up outside the Franklin County Board of Elections for early voting on Oct. 6, 2020.

A recent poll suggests Republican lawmakers in Ohio are a bit out of step when it comes to a package of new voting restrictions.

Last week Ohio Republicans joined state lawmakers around the country in proposing major revisions to the voting system. New polling suggests voters would support some of its provisions, like improving the registration process at the bureau of motor vehicles.

But a majority of respondents voiced opposition to other ideas included in the House measure like cutting the last day of early voting, limiting drop box locations and barring pre-paid postage for absentee ballots.

Ideas long championed by voting rights advocates like increasing the number of early voting locations get high marks in the poll as well, but the House bill is silent on that idea.

Outside of voting reform, pollsters asked about the direction of the country and the state. A majority or respondents said the country is going in the wrong direction, but a plurality said the state is headed in the right direction.

In terms of individual politicians, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did well, with 68% reporting a favorable opinion compared with 26% sharing an unfavorable view. President Biden drew favorable ratings from 49% of respondents, and unfavorable ratings from 47%. With a 4% plus-or-minus margin of error, those figures aren't far off from national averages reported by FiveThirtyEight.

The survey, conducted by The Tyson group, included 600 likely Ohio voters, most of whom were reached via cell phone, and who spoke live with pollsters. The sample's partisan breakdown is 38% Republican and 30% Democratic; an additional 30% responded other or unsure.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.