The Ohio state Senate was set to consider this week what critics are calling the most restrictive voter identification law in the country. The push for restrictive voter ID measures in the Buckeye state is part of a trend of similar legislation sweeping Republican-controlled legislatures across the country.
But Ohio’s measure is so restrictive — it requires the photo IDs to be issued by the state, so voters couldn’t identify themselves with their full Social Security numbers — that it lost the support of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“I want to be perfectly clear, when I began working with the General Assembly to improve Ohio’s elections system it was never my intent to reject valid votes,” Husted said in a short statement posted on his official website. 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.
GOP leaders put the election bill on temporary hold to make sure that they were comfortable considering the other changes the bill would impose, including limiting the number of early voting days, the AP reported. They stripped the voter ID measure out of the larger election bill last week, but a separate bill to require voter IDs is still pending, and is expected to be taken up before the end of the month.
“I do not believe this is in any way a voter suppression issue,” said Tom Niehaus, the Republican President of the Senate. “This is about maintaining the integrity of the voting process.”
Democrats, Voting rights groups and liberal organizations have lined up in opposition against Ohio’s bill, which would require a state-issued photo ID to vote. In a press release, Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish called it a modern day poll tax.