Ohio voters now must provide photo ID at polls

I’m not sure whether the date of Friday’s state legislative action was intended or merely coincidental.

It was, of course, the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on our Capitol and on our democracy in an attempt to disrupt Congress’ affirmation of the 2020 presidential election results.

Friday also was the day Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law new state voting restrictions that he and Ohio’s chief elections officer Secretary of State Frank LaRose believe will shore up election security and protect against fraud.

The sweeping package of election law changes passed by the GOP-led Legislature includes the state’s first photo ID voting requirement.

The law also shrinks the window for mail-in ballots to be counted, for curing provisional ballots, and it eliminates one day of early voting — the Monday before Election Day.

LaRose championed that idea because he says it allows county boards of elections time to more adequately prepare for Tuesday elections.

Hard to argue with that.

But rather than eliminating those six hours of early voting time, the bill gives discretion to the secretary of state to, if needed, reallocate those hours to the preceding week. I suspect that could come in handy when large voter turnout is expected, such as presidential election years.

Another provision I can get behind is elimination of August special elections — unless it involves a local community or school district in fiscal emergency. In my opinion, special August elections are

too costly, have low

turnout and are unnecessary.

The bill also prohibits curbside voting, except for those with disabilities, and limits ballot drop boxes to one per county, on board of elections property.

Shortening the deadline to apply to cast absent voters’ ballots by mail from noon on the third day before Election Day to the close of business on the seventh day before Election Day will ensure adequate time for applications to be processed and that voters do not unintentionally disenfranchise themselves by procrastinating too close to Election Day.

Backers of the new law say it will speed up vote counting.

Trust me, in my business where we always are up against tight deadlines necessary to get the newspaper printed and delivered on time, slow ballot counting is always something we can do without!

All in all, DeWine believes the new law will protect election integrity.

LaRose often boasts of existing strong voter security and very rare instances of election fraud in Ohio, but we should not be naive to think it can never happen here.

Still, opponents of the new law say the new restrictions are cumbersome and unnecessary.

Voting rights, civil rights, labor and environmental groups had been begging DeWine to veto it.

They accuse Republicans of rigging the rules in their favor and called the legislation an anti-voter bill.

DeWine has said, however, he would oppose going further with limitations.

“I appreciate the General Assembly working with my administration on changes to House Bill 458 to ensure that more restrictive proposals were not included in the final bill,” he said, and he signaled he might veto attempts to further restrict the state’s voting laws.

LaRose said the new law is “a common-sense way” to impose a strict photo ID requirement without disenfranchising voters.

Studies show most Americans agree.

In a statement sent Friday, LaRose noted that strict voter ID has remained overwhelmingly and consistently popular among every voting demographic. Recent studies by NPR / “PBS Newshour” / Marist showed 79 percent of voters believe government-issued photo ID should be required. A CNN poll indicated 64 percent of voters, including 65 percent of minority voters, said requiring photo ID would make elections more fair. And a Fox News poll showed 77 percent of voters believe a state or federally issued photo ID should be required.

I tend to agree. Let’s face it; isn’t a photo ID required for, well, everything?

And what really is wrong with guaranteeing the person casting an election ballot really is the person who is legally registered to do so — especially after the election process came under so much public scrutiny since former President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen.

Court after court has ruled against his legal challenges.



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