Ohio House Republicans should shun a bid to require voters to provide a photo ID to cast a ballot, a “solution” in search of an imaginary “problem.” The real aim is to hold down voting by the urban poor, typically Democratic. At issue is House Bill 269, sponsored by Rep. John Becker, a suburban Cincinnati Republican. Speaker William Batchelder, a Medina Republican — and, be it remembered, indisputably conservative — has kept the Becker bill in limbo. So a “discharge petition,” to force a House vote on HB 269, is floating around the Statehouse. If 50 of the House’s 99 members sign it, Batchelder would have to call a vote on Becker’s bill.
Any House member who signs the petition is stoking demagoguery, not debate, because Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, the state’s chief elections officer, sees no need to change Ohio’s current voter identification requirements. Voters must already produce a driver’s license or state ID card; or a military ID; or a photo ID issued by the federal or state government; or an original or copy of a current utility bill, or bank statement, or current government check, or other government document, or current paycheck – in each case, with the voter’s name and present address.
Becker’s bill would instead require every voter to produce an Ohio driver’s license, a state ID card, a military ID card, or a U.S. passport. Yet New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice has found that an estimated 11 percent of eligible American voters, typically low-income citizens, lack the types of photo ID that bills like Becker’s require.