13 Mar BPC Action Applauds the Introduction of “The DATA Act,” Ohio Senate Bill 71 in Elections
Bipartisan Policy Center Action (BPC Action) applauds the introduction of Ohio Senate Bill 71, “The DATA Act,” which aims to bring standardization, modernization, and transparency to election administration and will help restore Ohio voters’ trust and confidence in elections. This legislation, introduced by Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), codifies and standardizes clear definitions for election data, creates rules and standards for the collection and retention of data from local jurisdictions, and creates a unified repository for election data at the state level.
The standardization of data definitions allows for better analysis of data for election professionals, researchers, and the public. The DATA Act will allow for direct cross-jurisdictional comparison and post-election analysis of state election data. It will also improve and streamline the post-election auditing process allowing for easier detection of anomalies. When discrepancies in definitions exist, they can lead to inconsistencies, unintentional errors, and voter confusion that allow misinformation to thrive.
The DATA Act would require the publication of election data, enhancing transparency. Publishing election data will build trust amongst the public in the short- and long-term and guarantee that the public has one consistent portal to find election data, rather than having to track it down for each jurisdiction. Simplifying the process for finding data and making access equitable with direct comparison ability will foster trust and strengthen democracy.
An unprecedented amount of attention has been paid to the inner workings of election administration since the 2020 election. While this attention has created opportunities to highlight the work of dedicated election professionals and to educate the public, it has also overwhelmed local officials and fueled voter confusion and misinformation. Heightened skepticism has spurred a tsunami of gratuitous public records requests that have spread already under-resourced election offices thin. The DATA Act centralizes the retention and collection of election data and sets a standard for data retention, easing the resource burdens of public records requests on local election administrators and shoring up transparency and accountability.
BPC Action commends this effort and hopes there will be a strong bipartisan debate on Senate Bill 71 and other reforms as they move through the committee process.