A bill to make changes in Ohio voting laws has potential to be brought up by Republican lawmakers in the upcoming lame-duck legislative session. The bill would require a photo ID for nearly all Ohio voters.

State Representative Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) already has a bill in the government oversight committee – House Bill (HB) 249 – to create online ballot requests with two forms of ID, to limit the locations and window of time for ballot drop boxes, and to shorten the period to request early ballots.

Seitz says he is talking with Republican senators about what to keep in the bill but he expects to add something to the current verbiage regarding photo identification requirements.

“There is always room for improvement in safeguarding the integrity of election processes,” Seitz said, adding that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

According to the Ohio secretary of state’s office, Ohio currently permits photo ID, military ID, utility bills, bank statements, government checks, paychecks, or other documents provided by the government as means of identification for voting.

Seitz said in a statement that, under this new law, voters would be required to have a photo ID but it would be free to anyone who doesn’t have a driver’s license.

Seitz further elaborated that if legislators add photo ID requirements, the bill would exempt college students. Registered students who wish to vote while away at school can still do so by providing a utility bill or bank statement to prove their current address.

Republicans have shown overwhelming support for implementing a photo ID requirement for Ohio voters.

Republican State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) also introduced similar legislation in Senate Bill (SB) 320. The bill currently is in the Local Governments and Elections Committee. The legislation would require Ohioans to show a photo ID when voting in person. Voters by mail would need to supply a driver’s license or state ID number or photocopy of their photo ID along with the last four digits of their social security number.

“I want to ensure we have the most accurate and trusted elections in the country, and requiring a photo ID to vote is a simple measure we can take to achieve that goal,” Gavarone said.

Another supporter of voter photo ID requirements include the Ohio Christian Alliance.

“The Ohio Christian Alliance supports voter photo ID requirement for Ohio. Ohioans are not fooled; they know that there are those who are trying to game the system of our election laws, and we want sound public policy to put an end to it,” Ohio Christian Alliance said.

Critics have said it’s hard for some voters to travel for photo IDs and that photo ID laws reduce voter turnout.

The left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has outspokenly shared its disapproval of potential photo ID requirements, saying it is “wholly unnecessary and a way to keep people from voting.”

Seitz said he’s seen estimates that it could cost the state $2 million to $10 million to implement the photo ID requirement.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Ohio House of Representatives” by Antony-22. CC BY-SA 4.0.