Ohio Voters Are Not a Bunch of Crooks

For Immediate Release Contact: Joanna Helon
Date: June 21, 2011 League of Women Voters of Ohio
Columbus, Ohio Phone: 614-469-1505
Email: leg@lwvohio.org

Ohio Voters Are Not a Bunch of Crooks: League of Women Voters of Ohio
Calls on the Ohio Senate to Reject Photo ID Requirement

Founded in 1920 after a decades-long fight to enfranchise women, voting rights have been a core principle of the League of Women Voters of Ohio for the 91 years of our existence. Therefore, the League strongly opposes the photo identification requirement which, at the last moment, was inserted in Sub. H.B. 194. This provision will disenfranchise legitimate voters and discourage them from exercising this vital right -- and it will cost a lot of money that Ohio does not have to solve a problem that does not exist.

Proponents of the restrictive requirement have expressed concern that illegal votes will dilute legal votes, but they cannot point to any evidence of illegal voting – certainly not to voter impersonation, which is what voter id is purportedly designed to address ,—nor to any evidence of the need for draconian ID requirements. In other words, the current voter-verification system at the polls works.

“Voter impersonation fraud at the polls is a non-problem in Ohio,” LWV-Ohio Co-President Nancy Brown said. “Yet in order to address this nonexistent problem, this restrictive requirement creates barriers to voting for the estimated 11 percent of voter-age Ohioans who lack government-issued photo ID. This particularly affects the elderly, the disabled, students, minorities, the homeless, those of low income and new citizens. Furthermore, implementing this statute could cost the state millions of dollars – dollars Ohio does not have as it struggles to address an immense budget deficit.”

Rather than putting up artificial barriers like the photo ID requirement that will restrict qualified Ohioans’ access to the polls, shouldn’t the Ohio Senate and House be seeking ways to maximize Ohioans’ ability to exercise their most basic constitutional right -- the right to vote? Isn’t that what a democracy is based on? The League of Women Voters of Ohio thinks so.

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The League of Women Voters of Ohio, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.