Rep. Fudge: Republicans Restricting Voting Rights Targeting Minorities

WASHINGTON, DC— The Ohio House passed a bill (53-39) that would shorten the early voting period, creating longer lines and discouraging voting across Ohio. Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) made this statement in reference to the passage:

“This measure builds upon a targeted strategy by Republicans to obstruct Ohioans from exercising their constitutional right to vote. First, in March, it was the voter ID regulation estimated to block 890,000 Ohioans, including significant numbers of African Americans and people older than 65, from voting. The most recent legislation limiting the voting period is clearly aimed at disenfranchising college students and poor people, groups who have historically voted Democratic and are more likely to live further from an established residence.”

“There is no evidence of voter fraud in Ohio and no reason to tighten regulations on the voting period. We cannot stand for this kind of injustice toward Ohioans, especially our minority and poor communities,” said Congresswoman Fudge.

Under the most recent bill, voters would have 21 days, instead of the current 35 days, to vote by mail and 10 days to cast their ballots in person before Election Day. The measure also removes the five-day period in which new voters can register and then immediately cast a ballot.

The proposal would also move the 2012 presidential primary in Ohio from March to May. A similar bill is pending in the Senate, though the two measures differ on the early voting period and the primary.

Background

In March, the Ohio House pushed through what could become the nation’s most restrictive voter identification law, requiring Ohioans to show government-issued photo IDs at the polls. The legislation would require voters to show one of four forms of ID when voting in person– an Ohio driver’s license, state ID, military ID or passport. Currently, voters must show a photo ID or present a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government document with a current name and address. Some estimate that the bill could cost up to $20 million to implement once litigation, poll-worker training, voter education and costs for free IDs for the indigent are factored in. A study from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law finding that 25 percent of voting-age blacks nationwide lack a current government-issued photo ID.

Recently, presidential advisor David Axelrod told the Washington Post’s The Fix that 33 Republican governors are trying to create tougher voting requirements and that most of those measures are aimed at young people. The new laws require that voters present specific forms of government-issued photo IDs in order to receive a ballot. In Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota and Ohio, voters must present a current state ID. Most states already require some form of identification to vote, however these can range from a driver’s license to a bank statement.

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