OLBC Talks Election Law

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and other Ohio House Dems gathered yesterday for a news conference about HB 194, the elections “reform” bill currently in the Ohio legislature.

State Representative Sandra Williams, President of the OLBC, referred to the bill as the resurrection of voter profiling and the infamous poll tax. HB 194, if enacted, would create barriers to the ballot, barriers that would directly affect minority, senior and low-income voters. Every Ohioan deserves equal access to their ballot regardless of skin color, income or age and any policy that would intentionally or unintentionally lead to the disenfranchisement of certain groups based on these characteristics should be unequivocally opposed and defeated.

Three major problems with HB 194 are the restriction of early voting opportunities, the needless disqualification of eligible votes and the elimination of local control. For the past week or so there have been rumors that a photo ID requirement would also be added. Although this provision has been cut from the final version of HB 194, it is very likely that House Republicans will move forward with this requirement as a separate piece of legislation.

Requiring a photo ID at the polls, which many low-income citizens, seniors and college students do not have, will likely lead to lower voter turnout, particularly among those groups that make up the most loyal voting base for Democrats. What a coincidence! Proponents of this provision argue that it would help eliminate voter fraud, a problem that is virtually nonexistent. The damage that this provision would create far outweighs any benefit it could bring to the democratic process.

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