This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Terri L. Enns
Voter Identification Requirements in Ohio
Assistant Professor of Law
Associate Director, Election Law@Moritz
Moritz Class of 2008
Before 2004, Ohio did not require a person to present identification either when registering to vote or when voting. As a result of changes in federal and state law, voters are now required to present identification in order to have their votes counted.
In the 2006 general elections, all Ohio voters who go to the polls will be asked to present some form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot. The new statutory provisions are part of Ohio House Bill 3, enacted by the legislature in early 2006. Under the amended Ohio Revised Code (section 3505.18), registered voters must state their full name and current address and provide some form of identification in order to cast a regular ballot.
Specifically, a registered voter is entitled to cast a regular ballot, if he or she provides one of the following documents at the polls:
- A current driver's license or photo ID (issued under 4507.50 of the Ohio Revised Code), whether or not it has the voter’s current address. If the address is not current, the voter may be asked to provide the last four digits of his or her driver's license or photo ID number.
- Other current photo ID issued by the federal or state government showing the voter’s name and current address.
- A military ID with the voter’s name and current address.
- A utility bill, bank statement, government check, pay check, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and current address. A mailed registration notice from the board of elections will not suffice.
Note that the documents in the last category need not have the voter’s photograph on them. Ohio does not require photo ID in order to cast a regular ballot.
If the voter doesn’t present one of these documents, the voter is still entitled to cast a provisional ballot. That will require them to sign an affirmation that they’re registered and eligible to vote. Voters will also be asked to provide the last four digits of their social security number, if they have one. The rules for determining whether a provisional ballot will actually be counted are quite complicated. In a nutshell, those who truthfully affirm that they’re eligible and registered to vote should have their provisional ballots counted if:
- They provide the last four digits of their Social Security number at the polls, or
- They provide one of the documents described above or the last four digits of their Social Security number to the Board of Elections within 10 days of the election, or
- If voters don’t have any of the above documents or a Social Security number, they affirm that fact in writing.
For more on the rules regarding voter ID and the counting of provisional ballots by those who don’t present it, see this post from Professor Tokaji’s Equal Vote blog.
These new requirements point to the need for careful planning and training prior to the November election. Each poll worker must know which types of identification are valid and what constitutes an acceptable "government document." Additionally, each poll worker must be instructed provide a provisional ballot if the identifiying document isn’t provided or is questioned.
Most important, every voter should come prepared by arriving at the polls with one of the documents identified above, if they can. Those who don’t have any of these documents should know the last four digits of their Social Security number when they come to the polls. Voters who don’t have any of the documents or a Social Security number should be prepared to sign an affidavit at the polls.
No one should stay away from the polls simply because they don’t have – or can’t find – their identification. Assuming they’re eligible and registered to vote, those voters still have a right to cast a provisional ballot.
Updated August 11, 2006.