May 2, 2024 - News

Ohio lawmakers propose another voter ID bill

A collection of Ohio voting stickers.

A collection of Ohio voting stickers. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Ohio's voter ID law could change again under a proposal supported by over a dozen Republicans.

Why it matters: House Bill 472 would make it tougher for some Ohioans to register to vote and cast absentee ballots.

State of play: Ohio citizens were once able to use a variety of documentation such as utility bills and bank statements to prove their identification and voting address at the ballot box.

  • That changed last year under a new law requiring photo ID to vote in person.
  • Ohioans have still been able to register to vote and cast mail-in ballots by using the last four digits of their social security number.

Yes, but: HB 472 would remove that option.

  • Under the bill, voters would need to provide a copy of their driver's license or state ID card and its corresponding number while returning absentee ballots.
  • It also requires more diligent voter roll maintenance and cybersecurity reviews.
  • Current law already bans voting machines from being connected to the internet, but the bill says they cannot be connected to any telecommunications network.

The intrigue: The bill also would allow counties to use hand-counted paper ballots instead of voting machines or other tabulating equipment.

  • County officials could make that switch or it could be mandated by local voters via ballot initiative.

The latest: HB 472 had its first committee hearing Wednesday, where sponsor Rep. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, touted state and local elections officials for operating "the safest, most secure elections in the world."

  • Fellow sponsor Rep. Bernard Willis, R-Springfield, nonetheless told colleagues the bill is meant to solve issues "that currently challenge the integrity and security of voting processes."

The other side: The bill has not yet received opponent testimony, but left-leaning policy group Innovation Ohio has already condemned it as "an attack on our voting rights."

What's next: The bill needs to be passed by both legislative chambers before the end of this year and be signed by Gov. Mike DeWine to become law, but it's unclear if he would support it.

  • "I do not expect to see any further statutory changes to Ohio voting procedures while I am Governor," he wrote in January 2023 after approving the last voter ID law.
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who oversees the state's elections, has "some agreement, as well as some questions and concerns," a spokesperson tells us.
  • "It's always our top priority to maintain Ohio's reputation as the gold standard for election integrity, and we appreciate the General Assembly's commitment to upholding that high standard."
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