COLUMBUS- Experts and leaders are calling out the news that Ohio Senate Republicans have inserted an amendment into the Senate version of the Transportation budget that would require residents to obtain an Ohio driver’s license in order to practice their right to vote. Such a measure is legally problematic because it adds a costly new obstacle to voting for, among others, many Ohio college students who happen to be from other states but are already legally permitted to vote in Ohio.
“This is textbook voter suppression from a bygone era,” said former Federal Sixth Circuit Judge Nathaniel Jones, also former general counsel of the NAACP. “A poll tax, tied to a criminal sanction, is the type of cynical obstacle to voting we fought to remove from the books decades ago. It’s a sad day when Ohio Republicans are now aiming such grotesque tactics directly at Ohio’s young voters.”
“We just commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and now our state legislature is attempting to remove a basic American right—the right to vote,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, former Senior Vice President of The Ohio State University. “I hope the legislature will withdraw this unwarranted proposal that smacks in the face of 50 years of progress and could silence hundreds of thousands of student voices.”
Congressman Tim Ryan weighed in on the troubling amendment, saying, “This is a blatant, political and outrageous attempt to suppress young people from voting in Ohio. Instead of coming up with ideas or more tolerant policies to bring young voters to their side, the Republican legislature knee caps them. So much for them being the party of Lincoln. “
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper called on those Ohio officials who have a responsibility to ensure that Ohio comport with election law to speak out. “Ohio doesn’t need any more costly, losing lawsuits because Republican legislators don’t understand basic Constitutional law. As the elections and legal leaders of Ohio, Secretary of State Husted and Attorney General DeWine should immediately speak out against this blatant and illegal voter suppression.”
Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215