Opponents line up against Ohio House elections bill for photo voter ID as GOP readies a vote

By: - December 8, 2022 5:00 am

Ohio House Government Oversight Committee Chair Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, during a committee meeting, December 7, 2022, at Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

House lawmakers faced stiff opposition Wednesday as hearings continued for two controversial voting measures. Proposals to impose voter ID requirements and establish a higher threshold for passing constitutional amendments still appear poised to pass, however.

The same committee will hear both measures Thursday and a vote on both is likely.

Voter ID

After more than two hours of testimony opposing the constitutional measure, lawmakers turned their attention to the voter ID bill. The opposition only continued. But it didn’t go on as quite as long.

Government Oversight Committee Chair Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, placed a cap on speakers for HB294 — no more than 10 opponents and 10 proponents. He also imposed a five-minute time limit on testimony. No proponents showed up.

The House measure, moving in concert with a similar proposal in the Senate, aims to impose new more stringent voter ID requirements. In exchange, lawmakers offer, anyone who doesn’t already have a valid ID can get state identification card for free.

House lawmakers propose a number of other restrictions, including changes to the early voting schedule and a tighter deadline for absentee ballots to arrive.


Andrea Yagoda argued the free state ID card isn’t a great option for the elderly or some people with disabilities.

“Providing an ID for free is not free,” she warned. “For someone confined to a wheelchair or in a nursing home. They’re not going to the DMV to be able to get a state ID.”

She described spending more than $100 on cab fees and sometimes waiting hours just to take her mother to doctor’s appointments.

Yagoda also raised concerns about how the voters prove their identity on absentee ballots. She cited testimony from Secretary of State Frank LaRose that most people use the final four digits of their social security number. But the legislation, she argued, seems to allow that only if a person doesn’t have an ID.

“If the voter did only provide a social security number,” she asked, “can this ID or this ballot now be challenged by either someone working at the Board of Elections or an outsider that has a right to the thing to protest someone’s vote?”

Victoria Hickcox from the Muslim civil rights organization CAIR-Ohio raised other concerns with the proposed state ID card. In a seeming effort to avoid voter fraud, IDs would include the holder’s citizenship status if they’re ineligible to vote. Hickcox argued that will open up an already vulnerable population under greater threat.

“Outlining a person’s citizenship status on their ID will potentially open doors for discrimination, prejudice and oppression in the most basic interactions,” she said. “Interactions that include traveling, banking, making a purchase that requires an ID such as medications, applying for a job, purchasing a car, or registering a child in school.”

Quick turnaround and potential changes

When the committee takes up the measure Thursday, they’ll likely make additional changes to the legislative language. Chair Wilkin explained to one audience member who didn’t get to speak, that he’d tabled an amendment from the sponsor because it didn’t show up early enough.

The sponsor, Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, has been in talks with his Senate counterparts to find a compromise between the two bills. In an interview with Cleveland.com Seitz said he expects lawmakers to pass some version of the bill by the end of the year.

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.



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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.