This summer, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted did something remarkable: He spoke out against his own party’s legislative proposal requiring voters to present photo IDs at polling places. Husted said he would “rather have no bill than one with a rigid photo identification provision that does little to protect against fraud and excludes legally registered voters’ ballots from counting.”
Husted’s position is a stark contrast to a national Republican drive to pass voter ID requirements. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 38 states considered some type of voter ID and/or citizenship requirement in their last legislative session. Seven passed them, bringing the total with such laws to 15.
Whether supported by either party, this unprecedented push relies on two falsehoods: that voter fraud is rampant and that every honest voter has a driver’s license. The first premise, that voter fraud is rampant, draws attention after rumors and accusations each Election Day. But how many accusations produce actual evidence? Incredibly few. This is because states already establish identity during the registration process through requiring identification or cross-referencing driving records.
In Illinois, when someone’s identity is not established before Election Day, that particular voter must show a form of ID at the polling place. But there is no need to slow down voting and place an unnecessary burden on an entire polling place when most voters established their identity long ago, often voting in the same place for decades.
The process works, which today’s debate ignores. That is why Georgia could pass voter ID requirements despite their former secretary of state’s inability to recount a single case of voter impersonation during her time in office. According to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the League of Women Voters, out of more than 9 million ballots cast in Ohio during the 2002 and 2004 elections only four ineligible people cast, or tried to cast a ballot.