Bill likely coming up in lame duck could require Ohio voters to have a photo ID

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — A bill to make changes in Ohio voting laws is likely a top priority for Republicans in the lame duck legislative session after the election and it’s expected to be a version of a bill many Republicans already support.

A poll worker helps a voter to a machine at Franklin County's early voting center in Columbus on Sunday, March 15. In-person voting for the March 17 primary was cancelled the next day and the mail-in deadline was extended to April 28.
A poll worker helps a voter to a machine at Franklin County’s early voting center in Columbus on Sunday, March 15. [Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau]
But this time it would include an element that’s new and controversial to some.

Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) already has a bill to create online ballot requests with two forms of ID, to limit the locations and window of time for ballot dropboxes and to shorten the period to request early ballots.

Seitz said he’s talking with Senate Republicans on what will stay in the bill, but he expects to add something — photo identification requirements for nearly all voters.

“Yes, we would require a photo ID, but it would be free and it would be free even if you were not able to submit an affidavit of indigency, to everybody who doesn’t have a driver’s license,” Seitz said.

But Seitz said if a photo ID requirement were added, the bill would exempt college students, because they may be registered to vote in their home cities but still want to vote while away at school.

“They would have to still be able to prove that they were registered up at the college residence. So we would keep the utility bill/bank statement route for them to prove their current address,” Seitz said. “But only for them.”

Critics have said it’s hard for some voters to travel for photo IDs, and that photo ID laws reduce voter turnout. Even Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted opposed voter photo ID requirements when he was secretary of state.

Seitz said he’s seen estimates that it could cost the state $2 million to $10 million to implement the photo ID requirement, but also said there’s overwhelming support for photo ID requirements.