“At 4 p.m. the average wait time is about 4.5 hours and continuing to increase,” said a witness of the voting in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2004 election1. “Voters are continuing to leave without voting.” Such long lines in Ohio’s big cities caused tens of thousands of citizens in Democratic-leaning precincts to leave without voting. Instead of addressing that problem – say, by funding more voting booths and poll workers – the majority Republican lawmakers acted last February to require voters to show an ID, which would further burden the poll worker, slow voting and make lines longer x2x3x4. A citizen without a photo ID or address ID would have to vote a provisional ballot that, going by the ’04 election, has a 1 in 5 chance of being rejected. Ohio’s system of matching signatures and threatening a felony charge keeps incidents of false voting near zero – so the ID law does not address a real problem. But it does fit with other provisions in the act that hamper voter registration drives, eliminate the random audit of voting machines, and hamper or ban contests of election results5. By making it harder for citizens to register, vote and verify the counting of their votes, Republican lawmakers have given voters one more reason to vote them out.
Ohio Voter Information
- Register by October 10th: If registering by mail, the envelope must be postmarked on or before October 10th. Here is a link to the registration form. You can register in person at a public library, motor vehicle bureau or county board of elections – info here.
- Check your registration: Call your county board of elections or the state-wide elections hotline (866-687-8683) – info here
- Absentee ballot: You can vote an absentee ballot by mail or in person at the elections board, without giving a reason, from now till the day before the election – info here
- Vote (and bring ID): Election day is Tuesday, November 7th, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring your driver’s license, state photo ID or an ID showing your voter registration address, such as a utility bill – info here
- Contribute: You can contribute to state candidates and get your money back as a credit on your Ohio income tax – up to $50 filing singly, or $100 filing jointly. The credit applies to these offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor of state, treasurer of state, attorney general, member of the state board of education, chief justice of the supreme court, justice of the supreme court, or member of the general assembly. See info here
Since 2002, according to the League of Women Voters, there have been only four
individual instances of vote fraud in the entire State of Ohio. Mandating a technical and
cumbersome identification process is a “solution” that creates a problem.
This provision disproportionately affects the elderly, the impoverished and minority
communities in Ohio. It also affects many young and first-time voters who may not have
yet obtained a proper form of ID. A recent Wisconsin study finds that 30% of youth from
18 to 24 years do not have official state identification, with 98% of college students
having only non-local IDs. The League of Women Voters in Ohio found that 4% of
adults 18 and over do not have a driver’s license or state issued ID, more than 300,000
Ohioans. Many elderly Ohioans no longer have driver’s licenses.
At the same time, because you are eliminating the ability for the board of elections or
Secretary of State to utilize split shifts of poll workers, you have a retiree working the
13-plus-hour day at the polling place who must use discretion to determine if the ID
presented is valid. All the while, lines keep getting longer, people are getting tired,
pollworkers are getting tired, and people are upset and uncertain about being told they
can only vote a provisional ballot, when many times, they have known their pollworkers
for years, and their pollworkers know them. …
Requires all voters to provide to election officials at the polling place on the day of an election proof of the voter’s identity in the form of a current and valid “photo identification” (see below), a military identification that shows the voter’s name and current address, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document, other than a previously mentioned notice of an election or a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections, that shows the voter’s name and current address. If the voter provides a driver’s license or a state identification card that does not contain the voter’s current residence address, the voter must provide the last four digits of the voter’s driver’s license number or state identification card number; the precinct election official must then mark the poll list or signature pollbook to indicate that the voter has provided a driver’s license or state identification card with a former address and record the last four digits of the voter’s driver’s license number or state identification card number. (R.C. 3503.16(B)(1)(a) and 3505.18(A)(1).)5
We always believed that this legislation as structured would have the net effect of deterring and disenfranchising several classes of voters in the state of Ohio. Older Ohioans that do not have the proper identification, as outlined in the bill, such as a driver’s license or a utility bill that identifies them by name and address, will have more difficulties executing their right to vote. Students who live in university housing that may not have an address that identifies their residence will find their ability to register and execute their right to vote more difficult. Individuals who move frequently or persons with no evidence of permanent residency will find it difficult both to register and to exercise their right to vote.
It is the opinion of the leadership of Common Cause Ohio that HB 3 could be a devastating piece of legislation that could reverse all the voter registration and voter turnout gains of our organizations and sister organizations over the last eight years.