Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Rep. Mecklenborg Introduces Election Day Accountability Bill

COLUMBUS—State Representative Bob Mecklenborg (R-Cincinnati) today introduced the “Ohio Fair and Secure Elections Act,” which will require voters to confirm their identities by presenting photo identification when voting on Election Day or by absentee in person at the Board of Elections.
Under current law, when voting on Election Day, a voter may submit as proof of identification a valid photo identification, a military identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and current address.  The proposed legislation would require that all voters voting on Election Day or in person absentee to present photo identification in the form of an Ohio driver’s license, Ohio state ID card, a military identification, or a U.S. passport.  Acceptable forms of identification remain unchanged for persons voting absentee by mail.
“This is a long overdue, important first step toward securing the integrity of the electoral process,” Mecklenborg said. “This is necessary to make sure every legitimate vote is counted.”
The legislation directs the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to promulgate rules on providing free state IDs to individuals who qualify based on indigence. It also allows any person who objects for religious reasons to having their photograph taken to vote provisionally and sign an affidavit of religious objection at the Board of Elections.
“The issue of voter fraud has been a prominent issue in Ohio’s elections over the past few years, and I believe that this legislation is a vital step toward a more accountable, accurate elections process,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati), who is a joint sponsor of the bill.
Empirical data shows that photo identification has vast bipartisan support nationwide. A 2006 Wall Street Journal/NBC poll revealed that 81 percent of respondents nationwide supported photo identification requirements, compared with only 7 percent who opposed such a measure.  Currently, eight states require voter photo identification, while legislation is currently pending in more than 20 other states.  The “Ohio Fair and Secure Elections Act” borrows from Indiana and Georgia laws addressing voter identification, which have withstood constitutional scrutiny.
Mecklenborg said that this is one of many proposals that will be introduced by the Republican Caucus in the coming weeks to combat voter fraud and ensure a smooth, legal process for casting ballots. “Very shortly, we will be introducing a second bill dealing with many other aspects of the electoral process, including clarification of poll worker error and provisional ballots,” Mecklenborg said.  “The second phase outlines a significant number of the reforms laid out by Secretary Husted recently, and we look forward to working with him on this issue.”