State lawmaker proposes changes to early voting ID process

An Ohio lawmaker says she wants to make absentee voting easier by having the identification process for early voting similar to Election Day voting.

But Ohio Democrats say will likely oppose House Bill 41 as it’s currently drafted.

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, introduced earlier this month House Bill 41, which would allow boards of elections to require voters to show a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s licence or state identification card. The bill would also push back challenging a person’s voting eligibility to 30 days before an election. Current law states the challenge can be made as soon as 20 days for an election.

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“We want to make voting as easy as possible for our registered voters,” said Pelanda. “In talking across the state … there appears to be some ways to make it easier for election boards and voters.”

Currently voters casting an early ballot can simply fill out on their form a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. This new bill would require early voters to display a driver’s license or state identification card, or some other valid form of identification, such as a utility bill, bank statement or pay stub.

Butler County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro said the party will oppose this bill as it’s currently drafted “because it makes the ID requirements for early voting stricter.”

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“Voters would have to show an ID to vote early and if they can’t, they’d have to vote a provisional ballot,” she said. “It hurts older voters and college students.”

There is talk around Columbus about offering an amendment to the bill that would allow voters who cannot show a valid identification to still complete an application and use the last four numbers of their Social Security number.

“If that amendment is added to this bill, it may be more acceptable,” Bucaro said.

Pelanda confirmed there has been an amendment drafted to continue permitting the Social Security number as a valid form. It is not yet a part of the bill, which has been assigned to the Ohio House’s Government Accountability and Oversight committee, which is chaired Ohio Rep. Louis Blessing, R-Colerain. Pelanda is a member of that committee.

Pelanda and Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, had previously told this news outlet while they have not declared their candidacy as Ohio's top election official, they are contemplating a bid. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is considering a bid for governor, is term limited and his seat is up for election in 2018.

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