Jon Husted is all a-Twitter (TM) about today being Democracy Day, a day to celebrate the ratification of the 26th Amendment which lowered the voting age to 18 that is held by Rock the Vote and the National Education Association (NEA… you know, one of those free loading teachers unions).

Ironic given that Husted has publicly been very quiet about is House Bill 159, a bill that requires the use of a government issued photo identification card which lists your address or a recent address any time you vote.  Currently, a person could vote so long as they could produce a utility bill or a paycheck mailed to the address in which you are registered to vote.  HB 159  would eliminate those as eligible forms of identification.

Which is rather odd since these alternative forms of identification was devised by the legislature when it initially started to require photo identification at the polls to give people the ability to vote who don’t have a drivers license and no other reason to have a State issued identification card.  Prepare for a history lesson on how we got to a Paper Please, then you can vote law.

In wake of the Bush v. Gore case, the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 and was signed by President Bush.  In that bill, it required newly registered voters to produce a photo identification during the first time they vote only.  So then State Representative Kevin DeWine (the current chairman of the Ohio Republican Party) introduced HB 3, which initially only required photo identification for first time voters only in state and federal elections.  The bill also allowed for a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck in lieu of a photo i.d.  Other voters didn’t need to present a photo i.d.

It passed out of the House Committee and the House untouched.  It wasn’t until the bill got to the State Senate that it decided to mandate all voters must present identification at every vote, but the Republicans specifically allowed the alternative means of identification for those who couldn’t afford, or otherwise needed, a government photo identification.  The bill was signed into law by Republican Bob Taft and hailed by Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.  It was enacted in time to go in force in 2006.  And who was the Speaker of the House at the time?  That’s right Secretary of State Jon Husted.

From 2006 through 2010, we’ve had no problems with Ohio’s identification laws.  There hasn’t been one case of someone in Ohio fraudulently voting which could have been prevented by requiring a strict government photo identification instead.  Not one case.  Republicans passed this bill, saying it ended the prospect of voter fraud, and there’s no evidence, NONE, that it has failed in any way.

And yet, the House Republicans are hell-bent to pass HB 159, a bill that would make Ohio’s the most narrowest identification requirements in the nation.  The bill was introduced only eight days ago.  Amazingly, it went instantly to committee hearings. 

Here’s some details from the House Democratic Caucus’ press release on the bill today:

With only two hearings, limited testimony and no real evidence of voter fraud, HB 159 raises serious questions about why it is on a fast track for approval.

“Once again Republicans are trying to suppress the poor and minority vote by requiring photo identification, which would place an undue burden on those who cannot afford to pay these costs,” said Rep. Williams.  “It’s nothing more than a modern day poll tax.”

“This bill disenfranchises the right to vote of our citizens and disproportionately harms working-class and minority communities,” said Rep. Ramos. “In my district alone, this will negatively affect thousands of working people struggling to get by, impoverished people who have fallen upon hard times, students, and the elderly.  All of which are without vehicles and without need for a drivers license, or ability to get to the BMV.  Getting to the BMV IS in itself an expense.  It is a poll tax.  Polling places, by their nature are in our neighborhoods, deputy registrars are not.  And, since they serve people who drive, keeping the BMV on a bus route is not a priority, especially with our increasingly bus routes.”

The House State Government and Elections Committee heard proponent testimony from Indiana and Georgia, the only other states with photo ID requirements. Ohio’s law would be even more restrictive than those states. Numerous opponents also testified in committee yesterday including: AARP, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union and Project Vote.  Democratic committee members questioned the need for the change amid the fact that no real evidence of voter fraud could be displayed.  Democratic committee members also requested that Secretary of State Husted, Ohio’s chief elections officer, testify on the bill.  According to media reports he “has not taken a position on the bill.” (Columbus Dispatch 3/23/11)

“Citizens of this state are being systematically erased from access, participation and in a few more steps – existence,” said Rep. Heard.  “We eliminate the ability to bargain for one’s pay and benefits; we slash education; we challenge health care reform; we eliminate compensatory time; we go after pensions; and now…we attempt to go back to steal the right of people to even be able to impact the very process that is robbing them of their ability to survive in this state.”

Also joining the press conference were the NAACP, Advancement Project, and an OSU college student. It was held in the George Washington Williams room in the Ohio Statehouse which honors Ohio’s first African-American legislator who was a published historian and fought for civil justice.

HB 159 by the numbers:

  • 887,000 voting-age Ohioans likely do not have Government-issued photo ID
  • 25% of African Americans nationwide do not have government-issued photo ID
  • 18% of voters over age 65 nationwide do not have government-issued photo ID
  • 15% of voters with income lower than $35,000/year don’t have government- issued photo ID
  • $23 Price of a driver’s license
  • $21.50 Price of a birth certificate
  • $8.50 Price of a state ID
  • $10 million Cost to Indiana provide free ID’s to voters
  • 0 evidence of voter impersonation fraud

If this bill prevents fraud, it’s fraud that the current Ohio Republican Party Chairman and the Secretary of State is complicit in.  If not, this bill is just a giant voter suppression scam.

The Committee heard from witnesses from the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office over Skype.  Amazing, Jon Husted and no representative from his office appeared or testified.  What was Ohio’s Secretary of State doing at the time insteadimage He was just outside of the Statehouse speaking at a rally of pro-voucher, pro-charter school protestors… which are subjects that have nothing to do with his job but is a vitally important Republican constituency.

Yesterday, was the only public hearing on the bill.  And Jon Husted didn’t even appear.  Not even by Skype.  Or Twitter.

Amazingly (or not), the House GOP responded to the Democrats criticism today by holding a press conference in which the majority cited a Rasmussen Reports poll to support their proposition that HB 159 is popular despite the fact only two other States (Indiana and Georgia) have enacted anything similar:

An August 2010 Rasmussen Reports survey found that 82 percent of voters approve of voter photo identification requirements. In Ohio, former Democrat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered an investigation into possible voter fraud when 92 Lawrence County absentee ballots were sent to one of two post box numbers.

First, HB 159 doesn’t prevent the kind of things like what occurred in Lawrence County.  That’s voter registration fraud, not voter fraud.  Second, Ohio’s existing law prevented multiple votes.  Oh, and HB 159 doesn’t change the law for identification requirements for absentee ballots!

image

So the one example they’ve cited is a circumstance that HB 159 doesn’t change the law at all!

Now here’s the problem with Rasmussen.  One, it’s Rasmussen, a conservative pollster who has been known to produce polls with a conservative bias that shows public opinion to be vastly different than most, if not all, other pollsters do.  He uses a questionable methodology.  Second, the poll was of likely voters in 2010, which was a decidedly conservative, pro-GOP electorate.  Third, the fact that people asked showed support for photo identification does not mean that’s the only form of identification voters support.  We don’t know if that number changes if the category of acceptable identification is expanded to include that which is acceptable under Ohio law now.  Therefore, to take this poll to suggest that 82% of Americans support changing Ohio’s law to require government photo I.D.s only is an extrapolation that is an intellectually dishonest one given the limited nature of the data and the absence of a control question that test the support for the current law.  After all, Ohio mostly requires I.D. cards anyways, so how much of that 82% doesn’t support Ohio’s current laws?  We can’t say.

And finally, and most importantly, who gives a fuck what likely voters think about who gets to vote?  There was a time that a majority of voters thought you should have to own land to be able to vote to protect the integrity of the democratic process.  They lost.  Then, we needed to protect the process by keeping to men, specifically white men.  In the South, voters thought we needed to protect the system with poll taxes, literacy and citizenship tests.

We thought it was insane to let 18 year-olds to vote.  On the day, we celebrate the 24th Amendment.  Let’s remember that likely voters have one thing in common: their political power is always threatened by the inclusion and increased involvement of what would otherwise be the unlikely voter.

So we have in Ohio a law that is already more restrictive than what was required by the GOP Congress and President Bush, more restrictive than the current GOP State Chairman and Republican Secretary of State called for, and replace it with the only empirical evidence offered to justify such a move being an anecdote that the bill wouldn’t impact and a poll that doesn’t really test support for the bill.  And a Republican Secretary of State that is AWOL on the job.

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  • buckeyekelly

    In all seriousness, because I’m on the edge with the insanity that’s going on in Ohio – with your in-depth analysis day in and day out, how do you NOT lose your mind? How do you NOT subscribe to the eff-it philosophy and give up giving a hoot?

    Between this and the “heartbeat” bill I’m not sure what’s more maddening. Oh wait, I DO know what’s more maddening. The people that believe this legislative crap is necessary. I want to live in Oregon. I have this rosy-colored glasses idea that they’re nice, and crunchy, and progressive, and care about one another out there.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    I must say I really dont get what these folks are doing ………..
    I have been showing a photo ID to vote for what now 3 years maybe more ……..

  • Anonymous

    Just like you I have had to had an ID for as long as I remember.

  • Fotogirl: what they are trying to do is “dazzle everyone with their bullshit.” They are doing nothing, except trying every way possible to insure NO ONE will vote if they are inclined to vote Dem. Just like they are NOT trying to balance any “deficit” or “budget”. They are simply trying every way they can to take everyone ELSE’S freedoms away, make everyone a serf, take away women’s rights, ruin the planet, scare non-whites into “submission”, dumb down our education system……..just to prove they CAN.

  • NotKidding

    Let me tell you a story about I.D. requirements and changing of addresses. So about a year ago, I turned 29 and had to get a new Driver’s License. I went to the BMV, and thought I could just tell them that I moved from point A to point B within the last month or 2. So they find my explanation unprovable and request further documentation, and they hand me a sheet of paper which lists acceptable forms of proof.

    I take a paragraph break here for a reason. On this list includes utility bills and professional licenses. Now, I don’t know about you, but all my utility bills are online now. And it turns out, they don’t accept printouts of proof from the internet. I also have a professional license. I’m a lawyer. But since that is not controlled by the executive branch, that is the only professional license not accepted in Ohio. So according to the BMV, I can’t actually prove my actual address. So I went to another location and used my old address.

    Yeah, I love incompetence.

  • Annekarima

    Perhaps. However Oregon allows human euthanasia, if the person asking meets requirements. Ohio/kasich hasn’t made it that far … yet.

  • Annekarima

    Remember when stores used to ask for your SS number on a check? Yeah I date myself. Then a magazine printed an article about how that was not appropriate to say the least. I made a copy of that article and carried it everywhere and presented it. Made copies of it and handed it out too. That practice stopped.

    The Motor Voter law can be severely abused. Just ask Texas.

  • buckeyekelly

    It dawned on me last night – a bill like this will likely increase absentee voting. I know they’ve already begun placing restrictions on that, but could they possibly be gearing up for a complete revision and reduction of support for absentee voting?

  • buckeyekelly

    It dawned on me last night – a bill like this will likely increase absentee voting. I know they’ve already begun placing restrictions on that, but could they possibly be gearing up for a complete revision and reduction of support for absentee voting?

  • Guest

    This is yet another version of the southern strategy which is a version of the 100% of nothing is better because whomever thinks that being “white, male, and over 18 (real amerkin)” is better than something.

    If you can’t fight fair, cheat then change the law later. This is the way of the evil radical TGOP. This is just to remind us that our rights can be taken away starting with mine since I ain’t any of the above items. Win by exclusion then rule by exclusion is the way it is now for the evil party that runs everything. Don’t vote. get ready to lose your rights then people. People died to make sure that I could vote and be marginally free. I guess that includes choosing not to vote. Looks like the clock rolls back to 1856 or 1756 and of course those times did not include me and mine. The TGOP can go to the devil with their rotten god Ronnie, he’s there waiting for them.

  • Drew

    While – as progressives – we tend to talk about this in terms of it’s effect on the poor and elderly, this is also part of a coordinated nationwide effort to suppress student/youth vote in advance of the 2012 cycle. Students often register where they attend school (legitimately – they live there 9 mos a year or more), but don’t change their DL, etc. Those pushing New Hampshire’s similar law have actually said they’re tired of “liberal voting” students.

  • Drew

    While – as progressives – we tend to talk about this in terms of it’s effect on the poor and elderly, this is also part of a coordinated nationwide effort to suppress student/youth vote in advance of the 2012 cycle. Students often register where they attend school (legitimately – they live there 9 mos a year or more), but don’t change their DL, etc. Those pushing New Hampshire’s similar law have actually said they’re tired of “liberal voting” students.

  • David from Hilliard

    I guess they’re going thru all these machinations because they can’t be so obvious as to say to someone at the polling place on Election Day, “Do you plan to vote Democratic?,” and when the person answers, “Yes,” to then tell them, “Then hit the fuckin’ road – only Republicans are allowed to vote in Ohio!”

  • herc

    What’s interesting is the very same documents that are accepted by the BMV as proof of address to obtain an ID or DL are exactly the ones not going to be allowed to prove your address when you vote. First, how in heck does that prevent fraud, if there were really large groups of people out there looking to commit voter fraud, they would still be able to do it throught he BMV. Second, does the address have to be correct directly ON the ID itself? I ask because about a couple of years ago, I had to renew my DL about 2 months before my lease ended, so I didn’t know if I was moving or where I was moving to, so I kept the address the same. When I did move, I went back to the BMV to have my address changed, and they just simply sent me a postcard with my new address printed on it as proof of change of address, didn’t issue me a new DL. Is THAT going to be acceptable proof of address?

  • These are the exact type of questions we shouldn’t even have to ask… and my guess is, it probably won’t after HB159.

  • Human euthanasia doesn’t strike me as a GOP thing.. not from the people who used Terry Schiavo’s plight for their “right to live” campaign. Also, I am pretty sure Bush took Oregon to court over that law.

  • leeseh

    I didn’t have any problem in moving from Columbus to where I live now. I got the postcard just like you. I showed both to the poll worker and they accepted it.

  • Annekarima

    I think assisted suicide is still legal in Oregon.

  • clambake

    Well, to be fair the lack of a photo id requirement has been a real jobs killer. Look at all the jobs Ohio has lost up until this point. Coincidence? I think not.
    Thanks for doing what you promised to do Republicans!

  • Anonymous

    When one of Husted’s public relations liasons was asked, ” Does the Sec. of State support this legislation?”, the reply was that although Husted would not take a stand either for or against this, he did not like the idea of changing voter ID rules the year before the Presidential race (less than a year until the primary). The only case of voter fraud I can think of was when this politician claimed to live in Kettering when his family lived in Columbus. Who was that again – oh yeah! Jon Husted!

  • Anonymous

    Democracy Day! Wooo hooo!

    What a joke. As H.L. Mencken, the “Sage of Baltimore” put it:

    “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

  • Anonymous

    Democracy Day! Wooo hooo!

    What a joke. As H.L. Mencken, the “Sage of Baltimore” put it:

    “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

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