“GOP states press voter photo ID rules, with unclear effects”


As Ohio’s primary approaches, a strict new photo ID requirement is stirring concerns for military veterans and out-of-state college students, in Amish communities and among older voters.

Other Republican-led states are moving in the same direction as they respond to conservative voters unsettled by unfounded claims of widespread fraud and persistent conspiracy theories over the accuracy of U.S. elections. Critics characterize such requirements as an overreaction that could end up disenfranchising eligible voters.

Ruth Kohake is among those caught up in the confusion over Ohio’s law, which is going into effect this year. The retired nurse from Cincinnati gave up her driver’s license and her car in 2019. Now 82, she thought she might never have to step foot in another state license agency.

But Ohio now requires an unexpired photo ID in order for someone to vote, and she’ll have to get that at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The law adds passports as valid ID, but eliminates nonphoto documentation such as a bank statement, government check or utility bill for registration and in-person voting. Military IDs also are no longer acceptable when registering to vote….

Of 35 states that request or require a photo ID to vote, Ohio is now the ninth Republican-controlled state to move to a strict law allowing few to no alternatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states allow other ways voters can verify their identify, such as an electric bill, bank statement or signature match….

Backers of the photo ID requirements have widely moved away from the argument that such laws prevent voter fraud, which happens only rarely. The conservative Heritage Foundation’s database lists only 26 convictions for voter impersonation fraud — the type deterred by photo ID requirements — anywhere in the U.S. between 2004 and 2022. In presidential elections alone, Americans cast more than 645 million votes during that period.

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