By Marc Kovac
A group of Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House has launched an effort to force a floor vote on legislation requiring voters to show photo identification when casting ballots.
Rep. Matt Lynch, R-Geauga County, and three other lawmakers added their names to a discharge petition Tuesday during a press conference at the Statehouse to push House Bill 269 for consideration by the full chamber. The bill was introduced more than a year ago but has not had a hearing in the chamber’s Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.
“What is the problem with having photo ID required for voting in Ohio?” Lynch asked. “Frankly, there should be no problem, because we can’t get on an airplane, we can barely get into a public building if we don’t have such an ID.”
Opponents don’t believe Lynch and other supporters will succeed in the discharge petition effort.
“Given that this bill has been around for a while, and there has been really zero action on it, I think they might be overestimating the interest in the discharge petition in the House, let alone what the Senate and the governor might think of this, should it come to them,” said Gary Daniels of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Under current law, residents must show a valid driver’s license or government-issued ID or an original copy of a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document that includes the voter’s name and current address in order to cast a regular ballot on Election Day.
Lynch and others want to require a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. HB 269 generally would require a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, military ID or U.S. passport in order to vote. The bill also calls for needy Ohioans to be issued free state-identification cards.
Proponents say the change is needed to prevent ineligible Ohioans from casting ballots.
Opponents say the requirement would hurt elderly, needy, disabled and other Ohioans, many of whom tend to side with Democratic candidates. They say the requirement would be expensive to administer and that there are few instances of actual election fraud each year.