Ohio Bill Would Add People with State Driver’s Licenses to Jury Pool


Ohioans who get driver’s licenses, but aren’t registered to vote, could be added to the jury pool and called for jury duty if an Ohio bill is passed.

Senate Bill 15, introduced by State Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-9), expands the annual jury source list to include people:

  • who are issued a driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or state identification card that is valid on the date the jury source list is compiled,
  • who are or will be 18 years old or older on the day of the general election of the year in which the jury source list is filed,
  • who, regardless of whether they are actually registered to vote, would be an elector if the person was eligible to vote.

Current law requires the jury commissioners in each county to select jurors from a list provided by the local board of elections. While the law allows jury commissioners to use a list of driver’s license holders in the county, it does not require them to do so.

S.B. 15 eliminates the option and makes it mandatory to include the people who have a license or state ID.

“I believe that the current selection process of using voter registration to compile juror lists has not been sufficient in creating diverse jury pools,” Sen. Thomas told the Senate Local Government, Public Safety & Veterans Affairs Committee. “Ohio and Wyoming are the only two states that require the use of voter registration rolls alone. Many states have abandoned this method as it does not allow the maximum number of Ohio residents to be selected for jury service and disproportionately affects those less likely to register to vote, most notably minorities and low-income communities.”

The bill would require the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to provide a list to each county, just as the county boards of election do. The two lists would be merged and any duplicates eliminated.

Sen. Thomas said the goal of his bill is to match the recommendations from the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Task Force on Jury Service.

In 2004, the Task Force said that courts should use a combined list of registered voters and licensed drivers for juror selection. It also said:

“The majority of counties in Ohio use only the list of registered voters. Those that use a combined list are generally less populated counties. Legislation has been proposed in the past mandating the use of the combined list. That legislation did not move forward because of numerous concerns about the issues associated with a combination of the two lists.”

The report did say removing duplicates on the BMV and voter registration lists could be difficult because there is no common identifier, like a Social Security number, and because of inconsistencies in the names used for each list.

It also mentions a study the Lucas County Common Pleas Court did in 1997. That study found that the “racial and ethnic composition of registered voters and licensed drivers did not totally reflect the diversity of the population of Lucas County.” It also “revealed that the list of licensed drivers was less representative of minority populations than the list of registered voters.”

However, the Task Force did find a “definite benefit” to using a combined list, so long as the “practical realities of combining a list” were addressed.

“Given the recommended standards, with a basic level of computerization, the combination of the lists should not be problematic,” the report concluded.

So far, the only opposition to the bill is from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

In a letter to Sen. Thomas, they cite the Lucas County Common Pleas Court study from 1997, saying that a better way to increase jury pool diversity would be through administrative means.

The Association is also concerned that some people don’t register to vote specifically to avoid jury duty.

“Someone who wishes to avoid jury service is typically not a good candidate,” the letter states. “Our fear is that these individuals will not take the responsibility seriously or will not give it the proper attention due to their frustration of being there at all.”

Another issue for Sen. Thomas is the fact that Ohio purges inactive voters. Since individuals are periodically purged from the voter rolls when they don’t vote, that means “many people will be unwittingly excluded from this vital civic duty,” he said.

“Absence from the list of registered voters does not mean a citizen is unengaged or incompetent, and should not prevent them from serving as a juror,” he told the committee. “Disillusionment with politics and recent elections does not preclude one from assessing the guilt and innocence of their peers.”

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Maggie Leigh Thurber is a writer for The Ohio Star. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ohio License” by Ohio BMV.






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One Thought to “Ohio Bill Would Add People with State Driver’s Licenses to Jury Pool”

  1. This is the beginning of the forced to vote to make it look Democratic. This is exactly how it was in the Soviet Bloc in eastern Europe. They would have slates then force the people to vote. If you didn’t the Stasi came to your door and demanded you vote and dragged your ass to the polls. So that way the West couldn’t complain that there wasn’t some form of ‘freedom’ in play. Also to make it more ‘diverse’ is to force minorites into the pooling system. So they can get more hung juries. Esp for criminal cases that often feature more minorities than whites so it’s just another way to keep them out of prisons.

    Besides, if there are those who don’t have a DL there’s a reason. Either they don’t drive it the privilege has been revoked, so they wouldn’t necessarily show up on the list. Doesn’t surprise me it’s a democrat that proposed this at all. Again, it’s an East German tactic to lead to a forced vote. 🤨