The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has finally taken a public position on HB 159, the bill that would require all voters to present a government issue photo identification in order to vote.

First the good news, Secretary Husted doesn’t believe the change is warranted:

"I believe that if you have a government-issued check, a utility bill in your name with your address on it, that no one made that up," Husted said to reporters following his speech during League of Women Voters of Ohio’s annual Statehouse Day. "They didn’t call AEP and establish utilities in their name to commit voter fraud."

But here’s what Husted wants to offer as an alternative:

He is proposing that absentee voters and those voting provisionally provide all nine digits of their Social Security numbers, rather than the last four as required under existing law.

So Husted understands that there isn’t a rash of people voting illegal with forged utility bills… but there are people fraudulently voting by guessing the last four digits of a person’s Social Security number?!?  Does Ohio have a rash of people committing voter fraud by guessing the last four digits of a person’s Social Security number who can forge a person’s signature to look like the one in the poll book?  Jon Husted apparently thinks so.

"What I want to do is provide another option that I believe will solve the problem," Husted said.

What problem?  Again, even the proponents of HB 159 admit that they have zero evidence of any voter fraud going on in Ohio.  In fact, they actually cite the lack of some evidence as evidence itself.  We discussed HB 159 and Husted’s curious silence in a prior post.

I’m glad that Husted acknowledges that HB 159 goes too far, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea that anyone who votes by U.S. mail has to put their full SSN on their ballot.  That’s an invitation for identity thieves, which is precisely why current law only requires the last four.

The bill has already passed the House and is still pending in the State Senate.

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  • Annekarima

    Husted has apparently lost his mind. That is a crazy idea and promotes identity theft.

  • ols

    Would this require the full social to be printed in the poll books? Because if so, I don’t think that’s legal. I don’t remember what it’s like to vote provisionally at the polls, but I do remember that the last time I voted, I helped the person locate my name in the poll book and could clearly and easily see the registrations for my sister and parents, including their names, addresses and signatures. If social security numbers would need to be printed in full there, I imagine they wouldn’t be that difficult to see either. Since social security numbers are not to be displayed in places where they can be widely seen by others, I wonder if this suggestion can even be implemented legally while protecting a person’s SSN – and credit scores!

    I’m generally against any increased gov’t requirements to display or provide full SSNs other than on tax forms. I didn’t even like it when the Ohio driver’s licenses displayed these numbers – and was not a fan when a DMV employee told me the state would require me to carry my SSN card on me at all times if I didn’t agree to my number being printed on the license (I still refused and subsequently found out that wasn’t true, but I doubt the employee made that up on her own). It’s just generally bad policy to make people write out their full social security number on forms unless it’s absolutely necessary and I don’t see how it’s absolutely necessary in this case.

  • BuckeyeDi

    The intent for SSN is for input into the IRS and for federal programs. Demanding that it be surrendered for other purposes is illegal, and leads to identity theft- that’s why is it no longer on Ohio driver’s licenses!

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    This is nothing more than a scare tactic for older voters — these people know that older people are very fearful some one will steal their identity and get into their bank accounts.
    So if they know they have to provide this they wont vote.
    and most dont trust the mail to deliver their absentee ballots.( will open and get the ss#)
    this another “kill the bill” chant for me………………..

  • Anastasjoy

    So your full social security number would have to be part of your voter registration record to compare it to if you voted absentee? And voting records are public so there would have to be an enormous amount of redaction before a voter was added to the publicly accessible voter data base. That will probably cost some money, and of course, it will fail at some point as it did for Ken Blackwell and Greg Hartman. Some worker at a BoE will accidentally release or put on line thousands of unredacted voter registration records and — whoops — it’ll be like the time when Hartmann was clerk of courts in Hamilton County and he put all those traffic tickets on his website without redacting birth dates, signatures, or SSNs. Someone down there referred to his website as a “one-stop shopping mall for identify thieves.”

    I was at a panel on the media tonight at the Shaker Heights Dems club and during the Q&A, Subodh Chandra asked Plain Dealer political reporter Mark Naymik, who was on the panel, why the paper never chose to inform its readers about Jon Husted’s support of voter suppression measures while in the legislature. (The paper very strongly supported Husted).

    Naymik responded that they don’t bag stories because it makes their guy look bad and said “We do miss things,” which is a pretty weak response about something with such a huge impact on our democratic process. Of course, the Plain Dealer has a lengthy track record of playing down stories that make one of “their guys” look bad and playing up stories that impact negatively on their opponents. It’s documentable. Thanks, PD, for your support of this guy.

  • dlw

    I sure am glad our friends in the statehouse don’t have anything particularly important to focus on and can instead dedicate themselves to bills like this one… and the one about school calamity days… and the handful that want to further strip women of choice… and on and on. How awful it would be if there were problems with the economy or unemployment or healthcare or any other big icky issues with the potential to drag their attention away from the important work of changing systems like the voter id system that works so well that it very obviously needs to be monkeyed with. I mean really what a complete relief that there aren’t serious issues that our elected officials need to worry about.

  • Ajama34

    Another angle to play this is that requiring SSNs, and the potential identity issues, greatly effects our troops overseas–the ones in combat and the “boots on the ground”.

    I’m not a member of the armed forces, but I do live abroad, and requiring my SSN to be on my absentee ballot will guarantee I will not vote.

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  • Anonymous

    I dunno. Without Husted’s support, it takes a lot of the energy behind the bill away, and you’d expect they’d respect the opinion of one of their own. So, I expect we’ll see some changes in the bill as a result. But I think Husted’s proposal isn’t really any better.

  • Natasha

    I guess Husted, in spite of his living in Upper Arlington and representing a district fifty miles from there, knows all about how addresses of the voters and how for the rest of us it determines where they vote.

    U.S. passports do not have an address of its holder or a social security number of the person to whom it was issued. How then does a U.S. passport establish any kind of relevant identification for the purposes of determining whether a person is attempting to vote in their properly assigned precinct?

  • I’m glad Husted finally took a position on this *and* its intent appears less onerous than HB 159, but it’s illegal. Privacy Act Sec. 7(a) (1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number.

    Strategically, however, I think the best bet is to compliment Sec. Husted for (a) recognizing voter impersonation at polls is not a problem and (b) suggesting something less costly and difficult for voters to obtain. We don’t want to get the whole idea immediately discarded and be left with HB 159 as the alternative.

  • Annekarima

    Wasn’t that the original intent of the voter registration card? Then everthing got mixed up??

  • Anonymous

    Good question… I dunno. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    “respect the opinion of one of their own” well ? ?
    you know this aint true … they didnt respect Bill Seitz or Tim Grendells
    opinions on what was wrong with SB5 ….
    I truly wish a group of citizens would sue their big butts !!!!

  • Will he be a dick and publish the SSN on the web like Blackwell did?

  • Anonymous

    I refuse to believe that Husted is capable of expressing an independent thought. So I am going to have to look around at the other “shock-and-awe, kill-unions-then-disenfranchise-Democrats” states to see if this is in their playbook. Say, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Kansas, Texas …

    But to what end SS#s? Are they more restrictive somehow than photo ID? I would think not. But since when would a GOPer offer MORE access to the polls?


  • No committee hearings scheduled for HB159 next week. Husted and others have election reform bills planned. Here’s hoping that with Husted’s opposition HB 159 will die in committee.

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