Dismissing Democrats’ cries of voter suppression, majority legislative Republicans are poised to require those who register to vote in Ohio to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. The measure is part of the state transportation budget approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee and headed to possible floor votes in each chamber Wednesday. Democrats tried to remove the provision, saying it constitutes a “poll tax” on out-of-state college students, who would have to spend $75 or more on license and registration fees within 30 days of registering to vote. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, voted against the transportation budget on Tuesday, she said, because her caucus had a host of concerns about the provision.
Current law has allowed people to claim Ohio residency and vote while retaining their out-of-state licenses and registrations because the law doesn’t specify a deadline for new residents to obtain Ohio documentation.
Republicans, including Secretary of State Jon Husted, said the move is about fulfilling the responsibilities of becoming an Ohio resident — not a barrier to voting.
Democrats see political motivations behind the measure, which they view as largely aimed at young college students, saying they are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican.