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House, Senate approve photo ID laws and other Ohio election changes

Ohio voting machine
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio voting machines

Republican Senators and Representatives went back and forth on possible changes to Ohio’s elections laws in closed-door meetings on Wednesday before landing on an agreement shortly after midnight.

The legislature has been working on different elections-related bills that would make several changes to the way people vote in Ohio.

They ended up moving HB458 with a vote in the House in the early morning hours.

The bill would require photo IDs to vote, limit ballot drop boxes to one per county board of elections, and shorten the time frame for mail-in ballots to be received from the current 10-day window to four days.

The debate over the changes involves election security and whether or not more needs to be done.

“I think a photo ID is a much more secure form of identification than some utility statement that some college manufactures," said Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). "And a bank statement that may or may not be valid."

But voter fraud is already exceedingly rare in Ohio. The Ohio Secretary of State's Office discovered 27 cases of potential voter fraud in the 2020 General Election out of 5.9 million votes cast.

Democrats say the new provisions will only add more barriers for voters who want to cast a ballot when they should be making it easier to vote.

“I'd like to answer my colleague when he pointed out, ‘What do you want to do? Just make it easy.’ Yes, I do. I do. I do want to make it easy. And you should want that, too. This is wrong,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron).

Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) spoke out against the new provision that requires mail-in ballots to be received by boards of elections no later than four days after the election. That’s down from the current 10-day window.

Smith says elections could be won or lost in those extra days.

“We should be concerned if valid votes are not counted when they impact the outcome of the election and that are being cast by the Ohioans that we’re supposed to be representing,” said Smith.

But Seitz said Democratic lawmakers could have been more involved in the process to fight against some of the measure they opposed.

“Frankly, there is a certain amount of personal responsibility that's involved here. This bill strikes the appropriate balance. It could have been better had you worked with us, but you wouldn't and you didn't. So here it is,” Seitz said.

The concurrence vote in the House early Thursday morning sends the bill to Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, who has the decision to either sign or veto the bill.

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