COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There are two bills and one House resolution that could change Ohio’s election laws. The pieces of legislation are moving through this lame-duck session and could be passed as soon as next month.
Last year, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose testified as a proponent for House Bill 294. Rob Nichols, a LaRose spokesperson, said the office is reviewing new amendments to the legislation.
The bill would appropriate funds for electronic poll books and limit drop box access, among other measures.
“Drop boxes are used for not just your ballot, but your absentee requests, your voter registration form,” said Jen Miller, executive director with the League of Women Voters. “Campaigns use it to submit their campaign finance filings. So, this idea that we would limit drop boxes is wholly unfair.”
Right now, voters do not need a photo ID to vote; you can present something like a utility bill to verify your identity and residence in the state.
Senate Bill 320 would change that and require a photo ID.
Nichols said the secretary of state’s office is “generally supportive” of this bill as long as the required photo IDs would be provided by the state at no charge to voters.
“We have voter ID right now that works,” Miller said. “Fraud is exceedingly rare and states that have gone to the type of voter ID they’re talking about have seen massive costs to taxpayers as well as longer lines and more provisional ballot counts.”
Most recently, LaRose is leading the charge on a resolution that would increase the number of votes needed to pass a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.
The amendment has received backlash in days after being introduced, but LaRose’s team sticks by the House joint resolution: “The legislation was written specifically to help prevent special interests, partisan operatives, and lobbyists from continuing to get their meat hooks into Ohio’s constitution. The fact that they’re griping as loudly as they are was expected, and we look forward to a debate over how long of a leash should be provided to those who have turned Ohio’s constitution into a cottage industry.”
“This idea that it needs to be changed is unfortunate,” Miller said. “It’s rare that citizen’s initiatives come to the ballot, let alone pass. It’s not an overused process. What they’re talking about is bad government. It’s really taking the voice away from the people.”
Previously, House Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said one priority for him during the lame duck session is getting his election bill, House Bill 294, passed.