Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reveals GOP’s plans to make voter ID requirements more ‘onerous’

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted divulged plans by state Republican lawmakers to further restrict voting access by imposing more burdensome voter ID requirements in future elections, according to audio recordings made at a Tea Party event on Monday.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Hursted. SOURCE: Ohio Secretary of State’s office

“I was listening to a show one night about these onerous photo ID rules in Ohio. Well, the photo ID law in Ohio is not onerous. As a matter of fact, I suspect the GA [General Assembly] will take up a more strict version of what we have after this election process,” said Husted, a Republican and former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. 

Currently, Ohio voters can present at least 8 different types of IDs to verify their identities to cast an in-person ballot. But in audio recordings obtained by the Ohio Democratic Party, Husted told Tea Party supporters that “we need to streamline” the voter ID process and that he was “quite confident the legislature is going to take that up.”

“As if Secretary of State Husted has not done enough to undermine access to Ohio’s polls, now he’s planning a secret post-Election Day assault on what forms of identification voters can present to cast a ballot,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.

Husted’s comments on imposing stricter voter ID requirements came just weeks after a federal judge blocked his efforts to eliminate early voting in the three days before the Nov. 6th general election.

Ohio introduced early voting after the 2004 general election during which many counties, particularly those with a large working class population, experienced such long lines that significant number of voters were prevented from casting their ballots on Election Day. President George W. Bush won Ohio by a 2.1% margin in 2004, giving the Republican incumbent the decisive 20 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Since 2005, Ohio’s early voting rule have allowed voters to cast in-person ballots up to 35 days before Election Day, including on weekends for voters who aren’t able to take time off from work during the polling stations’ weekday operating hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Studies have shown that Ohio’s early voting rule has increased voting participation rates among women, low-income (those earning less than $35,000 a year), African-American, and older voters – the voting blocks that have been more inclined to support Democratic candidates in recent years.

However, in 2011, the Republican-dominated state legislature – supported by Husted – passed HB 194. The bill, signed by Republican Gov. John Kaisch, eliminated the last three days – the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day – of in-person early voting except for members of the military serving overseas.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus ruled that state lawmaker’s move to eliminate weekend voting for only some voters violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, citing the Supreme Court decision in Gore v. Bush that “state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.”

“[The] right to participate equally has been abridged by Ohio Revised Code ‘ 3509.03 and the Ohio Secretary of State’s further interpretation of that statute with regard to in-person early voting,” Economus ruled in Obama for America v. Jon Husted.

Economus ordered the Ohio to restore in-person early voting “on the three days immediately preceding Election Day for all eligible Ohio voters. And specifically, for the purposes of the 2012 General Election, this Order restores in-person early voting to all eligible Ohio voters on Saturday, November 3, 2012; Sunday, November 4, 2012; and Monday, November 5, 2012.”

Husted is appealing the District Court’s decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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3 Comments on “Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reveals GOP’s plans to make voter ID requirements more ‘onerous’

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