Voter ID rule is dead, at least for now
Opposition from Husted, Senate stymies House
Friday, July 29, 2011 03:05 AM
By Darrel Rowland and Ben Geier
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A plan to require Ohioans to show a photo ID before voting is dead.
"I think we'll probably not see it again," said House Speaker William G. Batchelder after a brief legislative session yesterday. "There's a limit to the amount of times you want to run your head into a wall, and it makes your ears ring."
Although the Medina Republican strongly supports the photo-ID requirement, the bill passed by the House is opposed by Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow Republican, and the GOP-controlled Senate.
Later, Batchelder spokesman Mike Dittoe said, "Obviously, the speaker wants the bill passed by the Senate, but I don't believe he has any indication the Senate will be moving on it anytime soon. Certainly our (House GOP) caucus believes that voter fraud is and could be a bigger problem, and every single poll, no matter what polling entity you use, indicates that the American people believe that as well."
Democrats bitterly opposed the bill that would require voters to show poll workers a government-issued photo ID (which could be obtained for free) before being allowed to cast a ballot. Noting that people who don't have such IDs are disproportionally elderly and minorities, opponents likened the proposal to the poll tax used to keep blacks from voting.
Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said Batchelder realized that he was not going to be successful in passing the ID proposal.
"The speaker has evidently come to the conclusion that the voter-ID bill is a dramatic overreach by his caucus," Redfern said.
Redfern didn't leave out the possibility that he and his party would have to deal with similar proposals in the future.
"(This will) be it for the voter ID until a new batch of tea party freshmen join the Republican caucus and go about the business of disenfranchisement," he said.
The death of this version of the ID bill was only part of the fight over voting rights in Ohio, Redfern said.
The other part, he said, is a controversial bill that has been signed into law that limits the number of early voting days and doesn't allow counties to pay postage for voters casting absentee ballots by mail. Former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and others are organizing a referendum on that measure, which could delay its implementation until after the 2012 general election.