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Ohio Republicans quietly enact “disturbing” new voting limits.usa news

Ohio republican It quietly enacted a bill earlier this month that would impose sweeping new restrictions on voter access in the state, including stricter voter ID requirements, a shorter early voting period and a shorter time for voters to return their mail-in ballots. .

New Law Puts Ohio State in a few states We have the strictest voter ID rules in the country. States already required voters to show ID when voting, but they made an exception for voters who can’t show ID, requiring bank statements, paychecks, or other forms of identification to prove their identity. I was able to present the documents of The new law removes that exception and only allows people to vote if they provide a specific form of photo ID.

Voting advocates say these new restrictions will make it harder for people who tend not to have ID, such as the elderly, the disabled and the poor, to vote.

“There is a large number of communities without ID in black and brown communities,” he said. Ohio Civic engagement advocacy group, Voice. “This will affect black and brown voters, students, rural voters, military voters, senior citizens.

It’s not clear how many voters in Ohio don’t have ID. One state legislative analysis estimates it could be in the hundreds of thousands. State law analysisApproximately 1 million people (about 40% of whom have their licenses in Ohio) have their licenses suspended each year. according to the analysis From the Cleveland Legal Aid Society

About 98% of people who vote in the state use photo ID, said Rob Nichols, a spokesperson for Frank LaRose, the state’s chief elections official. More than 8 million people are registered to vote in the state.

State officials have promised to provide free ID to those who do not have one. But even those who use that process will face the cost of obtaining the time and necessary paperwork, the voting group says.

“Free is a dubious term,” Wimbish said. “The amount of time it takes to take time off from work to go to work. [motor vehicle office], queue up for those who are eligible to get one. Of course, what if you don’t have the underlying documentation you need? ”

The new bill also eliminates early voting on the final Monday before the election. It’s usually a busy day. Instead, we will extend voting hours on other days. It is also targeting mail-in ballots, which have surged in popularity during the pandemic. Currently, counties can only provide a single ballot drop-box that must be available in front of the Elections Commission.

The new law also tightens the length of time voters must request and return their vote-by-mail ballots. A voter must request a mail-in ballot seven days before her instead of three days before Election Day. Ballots postmarked on Election Day must arrive to him within four days of Election Day, reduced from his ten days allowed.

The state’s Republican leadership has long viewed the election as well-run, but has trouble explaining why the new restrictions are necessary.Mike DeWine, a Republican and governor of Ohio “The integrity of the election is a major concern for Americans on both sides of the country. Said when he signed the bill.

Ohio’s Secretary of State Frank LaRose, also a Republican, supported the bill. “Ohioans clearly support strict photo ID for voting and have found common sense ways to ensure voters are not disenfranchised,” he said.

But LaRose himself said last year that voter fraud was “extremely rare” in his condition. Since taking office in 2019, he has referred 650 potential voter fraud cases to prosecution. This represents a rounding error of the tens of millions who voted for the same period (in the state, he voted for 6 million in the 2020 general election alone).

“We have no problem with voter impersonation.

By tightening voting laws, the politically competitive Ohio has strengthened its support for the Republican Party, joining many states in recent years to limit access to the vote. Republican leaders in these states. Georgia, florida When texas, similarly cites the need to improve voter confidence as a justification for measures. The new law came into effect after his 2020 election, which saw record turnout. soaring numbers From black, Hispanic, and other minority voters.

“The idea that they would pass these laws or defend these laws when there is no evidence as to why these changes are necessary. And there is really no input from the public.” Or the opportunity to be heard on these issues, which is amazing,” Wimbish said.

The new law prohibits anyone from voting from their vehicle or outside a polling place unless it is “physically impossible” to enter the building. Kevin Truitt, director of legal advocacy for Disability Rights Ohio, said the term is confusing for people with disabilities. Even if they were technically able to physically enter a polling place, there are voters who may have a disability that can make it very difficult to vote at a polling place.

“Besides not being able to physically enter a polling place, there may be other reasons why street voting is necessary,” he said. “Not only will you not be able to physically walk into a polling place, you will need to.

Voting supporters also cautioned against the way the bill was passed.When state legislators convene lame duck session In December of last year, they suddenly inserted new restrictions into the all-controversial bill. The last-minute changes left little chance for voting experts to intervene in them.

“Needless to say, I think we’re really disappointed that the legislature continues to pass bills that we haven’t seen and haven’t really had a chance to scrutinize. Speak up,” said Kayla Griffin, director of the Ohio chapter of All Voting is Local, a voting advocacy group.

A coalition of activist groups has already sued states in federal court over some of the law’s provisions. In their complaint, they said Republican lawmakers who supported the bill were responsible for weakening confidence in the election.

“There is no reason to justify the burden. [law] Impose it on the people of Ohio,” the lawyer wrote. “People in public office choosing to establish positions of power at the expense of voter rights would undermine confidence in the electoral system.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/18/activists-sue-ohio-republican-voting-access-restrictions Ohio Republicans quietly enact “disturbing” new voting limits.usa news

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