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Ohio's voter ID laws have changed. Here's what you need to vote

Gene J. Puskar

When you cast a ballot in person in Ohio, you'll now need to present your driver's license, state ID or passport to prove your identity. That's due to a law that took effect in April.

Previously, those without photo ID could verify their identity by providing a utility bill or other official piece of mail addressed to them. That is no longer the case.

"Ninety-nine percent of voters in Hamilton County provide a driver's license or a state ID card," says Hamilton County Board of Elections Director Sherry Poland. "So for 99% of Hamilton County voters, there's no change."

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Poland says her office has been busy informing voters about the changes. The Hamilton County BOE mailed information to voters in precincts with ballot issues in the May elections. Another round was sent before the November election.

Why the change?

Republican lawmakers cited concerns about election integrity when passing the new rules last year, but groups like the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the ACLU of Ohio, the NAACP and others opposed the measure, saying it will make voting unnecessarily difficult for some people.

"We call on Governor [Mike] DeWine to veto this legislation, given that it will cause longer voting lines, force more voters to cast provisional ballots and create unnecessary barriers for senior citizens, active duty military, people with disabilities, rural Ohioans, and students," League of Women Voters of Ohio Executive Director Jen Miller said in a December 2022 statement after the Ohio General Assembly passed HB 458.

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DeWine signed the bill into law in January. He acknowledged Ohio's elections have been secure in the past but said the legislation would help safeguard future voting.

Other changes to note

Those voting absentee don't have to provide photo ID, but can simply provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number when submitting their ballots. Members of certain religious communities can also provide that information in lieu of a driver's license if they sign an affidavit stating their religious beliefs prohibit them from appearing in photographs.

HB 458 eliminated a fee for state ID cards, meaning that Ohioans without driver's licenses can now go to a BMV office and request one free of charge.

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The law also limits boards of election to one drop-off box per county for absentee ballots and eliminates early voting the day before Election Day. In addition, it changes the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot to seven days before an election. Previously, a voter could request an absentee ballot three days before an election.

Updated: November 6, 2023 at 9:37 AM EST
This article was first published on April 3, 2023 and has been updated.
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