Just finished a conference call with voting supporters from all over Ohio. On the call were reps from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Jobs with Justice, The Urban League, Interfaith Worker Justice, College Democrats from Ohio University and Ohio State, Ohio AFL-CIO, ARC, an Ohio State professor, three volunteer voter protection lawyers, a rep from the Leadership Council and some others.
This is the second voter ID law conservatives in Ohio have passed. The first, in 2005/6, apparently didn’t get the job done, so they’re back for Round Two. No one knows what the first law was supposed to accomplish, and so consequently no one knows why we need a second, still-more restrictive law. We’ll never know because no one in media ever asks conservatives that question. I’m sure the answer is “ACORN” or “The New Black Panther Party” because when conservatives utter either of those words or phrases, media seem to lose all interest in the nuts and bolts of actual voters and voting. The voting process is (in reality) dry and rule-bound and ordinary, so maybe that’s it. Much more fun to gape at doctored video again and again than talk about the basic foundation of democracy, I’m sure.
This latest Ohio voter ID law met some unexpected (and frankly, fun to watch) resistance from the newly elected GOP Secretary of State. He opposes the law, because he (rightly) concludes it will inevitably wrongly disenfranchise lawful voters.
“I believe that if you have a government-issued check, a utility bill in your name with your address on it, that no one made that up,” Husted said to reporters following his speech during League of Women Voters of Ohio’s annual Statehouse Day. “They didn’t call AEP and establish utilities in their name to commit voter fraud.”
Of course they didn’t. That’s crazy.
Anyway, the bill was held up for a while, and now there is apparently discussion on some hurry-up changes to the most egregious portions. The law isn’t set in stone, so we are unable to plan voter education efforts just yet. Hopefully conservatives in the Ohio legislature will find time between the many, many hours they spend loudly showboating on abortion to finally complete the new restrictive rules they demand so voters and others have time to learn the new restrictive rules they demand.
My take on the conference call was that the college students were the most alarmed. They will be a particular area of concentration for voting rights advocates and others who value the right to vote.
When the final law goes in I’ll let you know what approaches we’re using to help make sure that each and every registered, eligible voter gets a first class ballot that is counted.