WASHINGTON — In response to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s signing of HB 458 to increase restrictions on voting access, Cecilia Aguilera, Counsel at the Fair Elections Center, a national voting rights organization, released the following statement:
“Governor DeWine’s decision to sign HB 458 is a severe setback for democracy in Ohio. HB 458 imposes the country’s most restrictive voter identification requirements on Ohioans, excluding as many as 800,000 voters from voting in person. Many of these voters are senior citizens, voters with lower incomes, voters with disabilities, and students who may not be able to obtain an ID due to financial barriers, a lack of reliable transportation and circular, bureaucratic rules that leave people unable to get the documentation they need. The law further restricts the option to vote absentee by mail by gutting ballot drop box access and shortening the deadlines to request and return a ballot by mail. The latter rule will especially impact military voters overseas and those who have difficulty leaving their homes.
“Ohioans did not ask for this radical, draconian law. Gov. DeWine himself has vouched for the security of Ohio's elections, and supporters of HB 458 could not show any evidence of malfeasance in Ohio’s elections, much less articulate how the bill would have prevented it. Instead of working on bipartisan, common-sense election reforms that Ohioans support, legislators rushed HB 458 through the lame duck session in an attempt to avoid public input on this unpopular legislation. In signing this law, Gov. DeWine has ignored calls from hundreds of Ohioans, including military veterans, urging him to use his veto power and stand up for their rights.
“No one should be disenfranchised because of how much money they make or their decision to serve our nation overseas. HB 458 undermines Ohio's elections by forcing voters to jump through more unnecessary hoops to make their voices heard and hold politicians accountable. It will also deplete public funds that could be used to improve election administration and make the government work for all Ohioans. States like Indiana have spent tens of millions of dollars to implement strict voter ID laws and defend them in court. Ohio taxpayers can expect the same in the coming years.”
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Fair Elections Center is a national nonpartisan and non-profit voting rights and election reform organization based in Washington, DC whose mission is to use litigation, public education, and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, and to improve election administration.