In a surprise move, Republican lawmakers added provisions that would require Ohio voters to present photo identification at the polls to an elections bill that could be approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.
The bill puts them at odds with Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, whose office released a statement condemning the action. And if the bill becomes law, Ohio Democrats will seek legal action to have it ruled unconstitutional.
The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee is taking up the photo ID provision as a part of a larger elections bill that would move Ohio’s presidential primary from March to May and would reduce the number of days allowed for in-person early voting.
Because of the amount of opposition testimony, amendments offered by Democrats, and other engagements for some committee members, committee chairman Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, the Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, said he expects the committee to vote Wednesday.
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Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, said the entire Senate could vote on the bill Wednesday afternoon.
The voter ID provision in the bill would require voters to present a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued identification card that shows the person’s current address and contains a photo.
“The Secretary of State feels strongly that in situations when photo ID is not readily available, full Social Security numbers must be an option,” Husted’s spokesman Matt McClellan said in a statement. “We are opposed to the ID provisions as presented in the current bill.”
On Monday, Husted and Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Elections Officials, both said they were told by lawmakers that a House bill that would require voters to present a photo ID at the polls would not be taken up until after summer break.