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    Study shows ballot rejections spiked after new voter ID law

    By By Jim Provance / The Blade,


    COLUMBUS — The rejection rate for the ballots of last resort when voters’ eligibility is in doubt jumped to 28 percent last year after implementation of a state law that tightened identification requirements, reveals a study conducted by a voting-rights organization that opposed the law.

    House Bill 458 also shortened the time period for would-be provisional votes to come back and prove their eligibility from seven to four days in order for their ballots to be included in the official count.

    All Voting is Local Ohio, a nonprofit corporation, said the rejection rates for provisional ballots for lack of proper ID during the five years preceding the law’s enactment in April, 2023 was under 6 percent. Those five years included the 2020 presidential election and 2018 and 2022 gubernatorial elections.

    Provisional ballots are handed to would-be voters when they fail to present acceptable voter ID or their names do not appear on polling place records as being registered to vote there. These votes are not included in the unofficial count reported on Election Night.

    “The data is clear,” Executive Director Kayla Griffin said. “Regressive ID laws negatively impact voters from all over the state and prevent their voices from being heard.”

    “Prior to the passing of H.B. 458, which has been dubbed one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation, our elections were touted as being safe and secure, even by Secretary of State Frank LaRose,” she said. “This proves that not only did we not need a stricter voter ID law, but the one that passed has only created barriers to the ballot for Ohio voters.”

    The law requires voters to show a photo ID — a current driver’s license, state ID card, U.S. passport, or military ID — to cast a ballot in person. Alternatives like a utility bill or bank statement with name and address are no longer accepted.

    There are still other options, such as using the last four digits of a Social Security number, to cast an absentee ballot.

    Among many other things, the law also shortened the time periods for absentee ballots to be requested and returned, took the Monday immediately before Election Day off the in-person early voting calendar, and eliminated most August special elections.

    Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R., Bowling Green) had a similar bill in the Senate, and that language ultimately made it into the House version that became law.

    “I’m proud of this language,” she said. “It’s one of my greatest accomplishments to make sure Ohio laws regarding elections make elections as secure as possible. Look at what happened in Wood County in the primary. Two candidates received the exact same number of votes” for the Republican nomination for county recorder.

    “Every vote counts,” she said. “One case of fraud is too many.”

    LaRose spokesman Michael Vannest said the law is working.

    “... they’re helping to keep our elections secure, accurate and accessible,” he said. “The law this group opposes has been upheld as constitutional by a federal court, which found that none of the new reforms ‘meaningfully impacts anyone’s ability to vote under Ohio’s generous voting laws.’”

    Despite higher-than-normal interest in 2023 elections over controversial ballot issues on reproductive rights, recreational marijuana, and amending the Ohio Constitution, it was still an off-year election without a state or federal race.

    Turnout would be expected to be greater for this year’s presidential election when a sitting president is challenged by the predecessor he defeated four years ago for just the second time in U.S. history.

    “Before Election Day in November, it is incumbent upon the Secretary of State’s office to increase funding for election officials to engage in robust public education at community events, and through local and social media channels about how to comply with the current voter ID requirements, and for election officials to increase poll worker training on guiding voters with ID challenges on how to cast a provisional ballot that will count,” the report reads.

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