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Ohio Restricts Voting Even More

While Pennsylvania elections are generally fair (see above), Ohio ones are not. The Republican-controlled legislature has now passed a new voting law that is even more restrictive than the previous one. After all, the goal is winning, not democracy.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) signed the bill on Jan 6, 2023, exactly 2 years to the day after a demonstration that quite a few other Republicans also aren't interested in democracy. The new law makes voting more difficult. This is a feature, not a bug. It is one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. It requires a photo ID to vote, and not just any old photo ID. The law specifies only four types of ID that can be used. Nothing else is allowed. The four allowed types are an Ohio driver's license, an Ohio nondriver's ID card, a U.S. passport, or a U.S. military ID. That's it.

A voter who shows up to vote without any of these can cast a provisional ballot but then has to show up at the county board of elections within 4 days with one of the four allowed types of ID. Needless to say, it is impossible to apply for a any of the four types and get one within 4 days. This rule helps only people who already have one of the valid IDs but simply forgot to bring it to the polls As usual in this kind of situation, it is the poor and minority voters who are more likely than middle class white voters to lack a valid ID. Republicans claim that this law will prevent in-person fraudulent voting. In reality, that virtually never occurs.

What is interesting is that Kentucky, which shares a long border with Ohio and is a redder state to boot, has a much less restrictive voter ID requirement and is not plagued by fraudulent voting. The Bluegrass State has a long list of documents that allow one to vote. Any document with the name and photo of the voter issued by the state of Kentucky, the U.S. government, the U.S. Dept. of Defense, the National Guard, the Merchant Marine, any college in the U.S., or any Kentucky county, city, or local government qualifies. The state also offers a free nondriver's ID to any Kentuckian who applies for one. To apply for a nondriver's ID, it is possible to make an appointment online so you don't have to wait for hours at the DMV. In addition, voters who have some genuine impediment to getting the nondriver's ID can vote using a Social Security card, a food stamp card, or a credit or debit card with the voter's name (but no photo). Clearly Kentucky was really trying to prevent fraud but not disenfranchise voters. Ohio could have just copied the Kentucky law, but that wouldn't accomplished the real goal (disenfranchising Democrats).

The Ohio law also prohibits curbside voting except for people with disabilities. It also limits drop boxes to one per county and that one must be in a Board of Elections office. Needless to say, there will be court challenges to the new law, but generally, the courts have been deferential to state laws that have (on their face) a valid purpose. Courts rarely say "but you could have done it like this instead." (V)

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