Conservatives in the Ohio Statehouse want to turn voting from a right to a privilege. HB 159, which restricts voting identification to certain types of government-issued Photo IDs, could disenfranchise almost a million Ohioans. Worse, the effect is not fair or equal and will disenfranchise primarily minorities, students, seniors, the disabled and the poor. It is estimated that 25% of African Americans and 18% of seniors don't have a valid form of photo ID and over 600,000 students in Ohio would be prohibited from using their student IDs to vote.
Tell the Senate Committee Members that every citizen has a right to participate in our democracy. Voting is not just for those who can afford it!
The bill, which legal scholars consider unconstitutional, has been panned by newspaper editorials around the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer called it “woefully out of balance and an invitation to litigation.” The Toledo Blade called it a “21st century poll tax.” The Canton Repository said “the [current voting identification] system won’t work as well if this bill becomes law.” The Dayton Daily News said “Everything about this bill, substance and process, makes House Republicans look bad.” The Youngstown Vindicator stated the effect of the bill would “be to make it more difficult for many legal Ohio voters to cast ballots.” Even the conservative Columbus Dispatch editorial board asked the Senate to “take a step back” and “slow down.”
HB 159 creates an unfunded mandate that will then force the State into spending large sums of taxpayer money to defend it in Federal Court. It will give Ohio the embarrassing title of the most difficult state to vote and all to solve a 'problem' that doesn't exist.
Ohio can’t afford to fund a solution without a problem! Tell the Senate that our tax dollars should not be used to disenfranchise voters!
While HB159 allows for a free IDs to those who declare themselves 'indigent' and provide extensive personal documentation of income and expenses to local BMV registrars for the final decision, it does not offer a way for the poor to get copies of documents which are required to obtain an ID. These documents can run from $21.50 for a birth certificate to $345 for naturalization copies, without including the costs of transportation and the time off of work to get to the offices. In these tough economic times, those on the bottom of the economic ladder should not be forced to make a decision between feeding their families and casting a ballot.
The Ohio House has already passed this bill -- a mere eight days after it was introduced. Supporters of HB159 know that Ohioans would be outraged if we knew what they were up to and have tried to push this through with minimal public input. HB 159 was now been assigned to the Senate State Government Committee -- we must let them know that we will not be silent while they strip voting rights from eligible citizens.
Our voices and our votes do matter. Please take action today to ensure our democracy is not challenged by an elite few.
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