By Ethan Nichols, Guest Writer
Ohio House Republicans proposed extensive voting restrictions last week, including enhanced photo identification requirements, stricter rules on absentee voting and bans on ballot drop boxes.
The voting rights bill House Bill (HB) 387, was introduced by Ohio Rep. Bill Dean (R-Xenia).
The bill would limit early voting to the 13 days before Election Day, except the Monday before Election Day. Previously, voters had a 28-day early voting period.
HB 387 would also ban the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications to voters.
Only people with with diagnosed physical disabilities that would prevent voting in-person, under the new bill’s provisions, can vote in-person.
The new bill will only allow Ohioans to register to vote with a driver’s license, passport or state ID. Previously, Ohioans could vote with military IDs, utility bills or bank statements in addition to state-issued photo IDs.
HB 387 follows another bill, HB 294, in adding stricter requirements to voting.
HB 294 was introduced to the Ohio House of Representatives on May 6 by Rep. Tom Brinkman R-Mount Lookout) and Rep. Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth).
It seeks to limit drop boxes for mail-in voting to the 10 days before Election Day, remove early voting on the Monday before Election Day and require Ohioans to submit two forms of identification to request a mail-in ballot.
Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Hyde Park) has been a vocal opponent of both bills, and characterized them as a “step in the wrong direction.”
“Our democracy works best when everyone can vote,” Kelly said. “If we listen to our communities, they want to make voting more accessible.”
Defending HB 387 as necessary to minimize voter fraud, Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) expressed concerns with the security of ballot drop boxes.
Wiggam, along with six other Republicans, is co-sponsoring HB 387.
Wiggam also stated that the current period of early voting was too long, citing this as a reason to support HB 387.
“What’s the difference between 30 and 40 and 50? How about a year of early voting? How many days do you actually have to have in order to go vote?” Wiggam asked.