Welcome to the new Ohio, where the state legislature has become an increasingly frightening and powerful laboratory for autocracy.
To start, on January 6th, 2023 (of all the dates!) Ohio’s governor signed one of the most restrictive voter-ID laws in the country. The Ohio law includes mandating the use of photo IDs, passports, or driver’s licenses for voting; limiting each county to a single ballot drop box; and requiring citizenship status on IDs. County-issued veterans’ identification and college IDs cannot be used for voting. Out-of-state college students will not be able to take advantage of the “free” Ohio state ID’s without possible serious consequences and university student ID’s are not acceptable. To say it is confusing, is an understatement.
These draconian voter ID laws will be in effect in Ohio’s upcoming May 2nd primary election as well as for a special election taking place in August. You heard that right—the summertime. For Ohio county boards, this special election is a costly, low-turnout, and unnecessary election to administer. That much was obvious last year when the gerrymandering debacle forced Ohio to hold a special primary for state legislative districts in August. The turnout, predictably, was very low.
So then, why the urgency to pass a law allowing for an August special election?It has everything to do with making changes to their State Constitution. Ohio Republicans are hoping to get it passed and signed into law in time for Ohioans to vote this summer on a proposed amendment that would raise the threshold for passing other constitutional amendments to 60 percent. As it stands now, the threshold is 50 percent plus one vote.