Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Wednesday, June 15
 
More on Ohio's Election Bill
The Ohio Senate's Rules Committee today held a second day of hearings on the omnibus election bill that the House passed last month. The big question is what the committee will do on voter ID.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer has this story on a report finding only four cases of prosecutable fraud in the 2004 election. The report by the Ohio League of Women Voters and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) is based on interviews of election officials in the 88 counties in the state. This calls to question whether there's any legitimate purpose served by voter ID laws -- or whether the real effect will be to impose barriers to eligible voters.

On that subject, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has this story on a study by University of Wisconsin researchers on the likely impact of a proposed law to require photo ID. That study found that 78% of African-American males between 18 and 24 lack a driver's license. The study also found that a large number of seniors -- over 177,000 -- lacked any photo ID. The study supports the claim that a photo ID requirement would have a greater impact on elderly and minority voters.

Also being debated in Ohio is a provision of the House bill that would allow "no excuse" absentee voting by mail. The Akron Beacon-Journal has this report on the issue of whether in-person early voting is a better choice. The difference is that in-person early voting preserves the secrecy and anonymity of the ballot. By contrast, with mail-in voting, there can be no guarantee that the voter's choices are really her own, or that the ballot has been marked privately. Mail-in voting thus opens up the opportunity for coercion, or even for vote buying and selling, which is effectively impossible with in-person voting.

Update: The Wisconsin ID study by John Pawasarat of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee can be found here, and the COHHIO-LWV Ohio report is available here. My testimony to the Ohio Senate Rules Committee on the election bill is here.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University