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Voter rights coalition pushes back on elections bills in lame duck

Voters outside Franklin County Voting Center
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau

Opponents are speaking out against a proposed list of changes to Ohio’s elections laws which includes eliminating early voting the Monday before election day and requiring a photo ID.

The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition said most of the provisions in the elections-related bills are "not good for Ohio."

One bill, SB320, would require a voter provide a photo ID in order to vote in person or by mail.

Collin Marozzi, ACLU of Ohio deputy policy director, said that would fundamentally alter Ohio’s photo ID requirement.

“That would mandate a one-size-fits-all photo ID requirement for all voters. And the question is, what problem does a strict photo ID law solve in Ohio?” Marozzi said, noting that voter fraud in Ohio has been proven to be exceedingly rare and voter impersonation has not been a crime referred to the attorney general's office in the last four years.

Marozzi said there are certain populations that would be negatively impacted by a photo ID law, such as people who have had their license suspended and would then have to pay for a state-issued photo ID card.

If a voter doesn’t have a photo ID, they can vote with a provisional ballot. Marozzi said that will lead to longer lines and a longer wait for official results. Depending on the plan, a photo ID law could cost the state millions of dollars to produce free cards.

Republican lawmakers have been pushing for photo ID laws for years. They have said this would be a way to make Ohio’s elections even more secure.

Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) is considering adding a photo ID requirement to his elections bill, HB294.

“Yes, we would require a photo ID, but it would be free and it would be free even if you were not able to submit an affidavit of indigency, to everybody who doesn't have a driver's license," Seitz said when talking about the consideration of adding a photo ID law to his bill.

The coalition also spoke out against other measures in HB294 such as eliminating early voting on the Monday before election day, changes to overseas voting laws, shortening the window to allow absentee ballot requests, and limits the number of ballot drop boxes to three boxes at the county board office.

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