COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — House Bill 485, which would change ID requirements for voting in Ohio, is one step away from heading to the governor’s office and becoming law.
The bill passed on the Ohio Senate floor Tuesday, along party lines, 24-6, and now heads back to the Ohio House floor for a vote.
“It’s a historic day today in the Ohio Senate and General Assembly where we take a huge step in securing the integrity of our elections,” said Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg).
“I’m ashamed,” said Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “I’m ashamed that we’re standing here today talking about this.”
HB 458 was originally meant to eliminate August special elections in the state except in the case of U.S. House of Representatives nominations. But, since being introduced last October, several amendments to the legislation have been made and opponents say the provisions would make it more difficult to vote.
“You can cut this any way you want to,” Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) said. “‘Those mean Republicans are making it harder to vote,’ that is so disingenuous that I would almost laugh about it.”
The bill would take away voting hours the Monday before an election day, would shorten the amount of time voters have to both request and return an absentee ballot, and would change ID requirements to vote.
Right now, in Ohio, voters can verify their identity at the polls with something like a utility bill. Under HB 458, if requesting an absentee ballot, voters won’t need a photo ID, but to cast a vote in person, a valid photo id or passport would be necessary.
“This legislation, which is supposed to secure voting and allow for more people to vote, this will create a situation where a lot more people won’t be able to vote, especially our seniors,” Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) said.
“For people to say that the proponents of this bill, and it looks like they’re primarily Republicans, don’t want elderlies to vote, well guess what? There are a lot of elderlies who vote for us,” Johnson said. “We are not going to do anything to make it more difficult for them to vote.”
For those without a photo ID, the state would issue them for free.
“Let’s face it, folks; ‘free IDs,’ nothing’s free and these IDs will not be free,” Thomas said. “It costs to find the necessary paperwork such as a birth certificate, it costs to get that information and folks don’t have the money.”
“Only with safe elections can our democracy be alive and thrive,” Antani said. “And requiring a photo ID to vote is a very important step on the checklist of a secure election.”
HB 458 will likely be voted on the House Floor on Wednesday. Leaders in both the House and Senate believe it has enough support to pass and move on to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk to be signed into law.