Athens Board of Elections alerts voters to the new voter ID law as August’s special election nears

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) — The Aug. 8 special election will be the first time voters in Athens will have to comply with Ohio’s new voter ID law.

Tony Brooks, deputy director of the Athens County Board of Elections, said voters need to make sure they have valid ID to cast their ballots.

“The new legislation did do away with utility bills, bank statements, things like that,” he explained. “You have to actually bring a form of photo identification.”

Acceptable forms of ID include a passport, driver’s license, state ID, military ID, interim BMV ID (the document a person receives while waiting on a formal driver’s license), Ohio National Guard ID or Department of Veterans Affairs ID.

Any voter who does not have one of those forms of ID can get a free state ID from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Voters who do not have a valid ID when they vote will receive a provisional ballot and must bring valid identification to the board of elections by Aug. 12.

The Athens County Board of Elections Office
The Athens County Board of Elections Office (WOUB File Photo)

The August special election is for a ballot initiative that, if successful, would make it significantly harder for voters to amend Ohio’s constitution.

Currently, amending the Ohio constitution requires a majority of voters to approve the proposed change. If the August ballot initiative succeeds, however, future amendments will require 60% approval to pass.

Some commentators see the August ballot initiative as an attempt by the state’s Republican Legislature to prevent an amendment expanding abortion access from passing in the fall. If the August initiative passes, the abortion amendment will not pass unless 60% of voters approve it.

Brooks said a number of pending lawsuits have created uncertainty around the August election.

“We’re as prepared as we’re going to be,” he said.

The Board of Elections will send out the first wave of ballots for overseas civilian and military voters on June 23. Brooks said there’s a chance the language may change after that date, in which case the board would have to send out new ballots.

Overseas voters would then have to wait and mail back the corrected ballot for their vote to be counted.

All ballots, including absentee and provisional ballots, must be returned to the board of elections by Aug. 12.

The deadline to register in time for the election is July 10. Early voting begins the next day, July 11.