Secretary of State Jon Husted, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, was front and center this week in a dispute over photo IDs at voting booths – and his tiff was not with Democrats. Husted drew a line in the sand against his own party by publicly objecting to Republican-backed legislation that would require voters to present a photo identification at the polls.
“I stand for what I believe in,” Husted said in a phone interview with The Dispatch yesterday. “You go out, and you campaign and talk about being fair. If you want to have any credibility, you’ve got to do what you said you would do. I said I’d be fair and even-handed.”
Opponents of the photo ID provision say it is discriminatory, racist and would suppress Democratic votes. Republicans who support it say it will protect against voter fraud.
Husted, a former Republican speaker of the Ohio House, objected when Senate Republicans tried to incorporate a GOP House bill that required a photo ID to vote (in person) into a larger elections bill. Senate leadership removed the provision but could hold a vote on the House’s stand-alone photo ID bill next week.
In an emailed statement to media members yesterday, Husted blasted the photo ID requirement – which would preclude anyone from casting a regular ballot in person unless he or she had a driver’s license, passport, military card or state-issued ID.
“I 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 said.
Husted later told The Dispatch that he doesn’t “like to disagree with people I know and respect” but felt taking a stand “was the right thing to do.”