Increase in ballot rejections observed following implementation of voter ID law

A study conducted by a voting-rights organization that opposed the law reveals that the rejection rate for ballots of last resort, in cases where voters’ eligibility is in doubt, increased to 28 percent following the implementation of a state law that imposed stricter identification requirements.

House Bill 458 has reduced the time period for prospective provisional voters to verify their eligibility from seven days to four days. This change ensures that their ballots can be included in the official count.

According to All Voting is Local Ohio, a nonprofit organization, the rejection rates for provisional ballots due to insufficient identification in the five years leading up to the enactment of the law in April 2023 were less than 6 percent. This period included significant elections such as the 2020 presidential election as well as the 2018 and 2022 gubernatorial elections.

When voters are unable to present acceptable voter ID or their names are not found in the polling place records, they are given provisional ballots. These ballots are not counted in the unofficial tally that is reported on Election Night.

According to Executive Director Kayla Griffin, the data clearly shows that regressive ID laws have a negative impact on voters from all over the state, preventing them from having their voices heard.

According to her, Ohio’s elections were considered safe and secure even before the implementation of H.B. 458, which is now recognized as one of the most stringent voter ID laws in the country. Secretary of State Frank LaRose himself has acknowledged the security of the previous system. This serves as evidence that the stricter voter ID law was unnecessary, and in fact, it has only erected obstacles for Ohio voters to exercise their right to vote.

In order to cast a ballot in person, voters must adhere to the law which mandates the presentation of a photo ID. Acceptable forms of identification include a current driver’s license, state ID card, U.S. passport, or military ID. It is important to note that alternatives such as utility bills or bank statements with name and address are no longer considered valid forms of identification.

You can also cast an absentee ballot by using the last four digits of your Social Security number.

The law made several changes, including shortening the time periods for requesting and returning absentee ballots, removing the Monday before Election Day from the in-person early voting schedule, and getting rid of most August special elections.

Republican Senator Theresa Gavarone from Bowling Green had introduced a similar bill in the Senate, and eventually, the language from her bill was included in the House version, which was ultimately enacted into law.

“I take great pride in the language of Ohio’s election laws,” she expressed with a sense of accomplishment. “Ensuring the utmost security in our elections has been one of my most significant achievements. Just consider the incident that occurred in Wood County during the primary. It was astonishing that two candidates received the exact same number of votes for the Republican nomination for county recorder.”

She emphasized the importance of every vote, stating that even a single case of fraud is unacceptable.

According to the spokesman for LaRose, Michael Vannest, the law is functioning effectively.

According to him, they are playing a crucial role in ensuring the security, accuracy, and accessibility of our elections. He also highlighted that a federal court has confirmed the constitutionality of the law that this group is opposing. The court determined that the new reforms do not significantly affect anyone’s ability to vote, considering Ohio’s already generous voting laws.

The 2023 elections garnered significant attention due to contentious ballot issues surrounding reproductive rights, recreational marijuana, and amendments to the Ohio Constitution. However, it was important to note that this was an off-year election without any state or federal races.

Expectations are high for a significant increase in voter turnout in this year’s presidential election. This is due to the unique circumstances where a sitting president is being challenged by his predecessor, whom he defeated four years ago. It is only the second time in U.S. history that such a situation has occurred.

The report emphasizes the need for the Secretary of State’s office to allocate more funding to election officials. This funding would be used to conduct extensive public education campaigns, both at community events and through various local and social media platforms. The main objective of these campaigns would be to educate the public on how to adhere to the existing voter ID requirements. Additionally, the report calls for enhanced training programs for poll workers, specifically focusing on assisting voters who may face challenges related to identification. The goal of this training would be to ensure that these voters are able to cast a provisional ballot that will ultimately be counted.

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MBS Staff
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