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Religious Group Launches Voter ID Push

A conservative Christian group is launching an effort to require voters to present photo IDs at the polls. The group is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass their proposal early next year. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

Chris Long with the Ohio Christian Alliance says his group supports a bill sponsored by Republican State Representative John Becker that requires voters to present a valid driver’s license or official state issued identification card before they would be allowed to vote.  And Long says his group is going to collect the signatures needed to require lawmakers to either pass the plan or allow his group to put it on the ballot.

Long - If they pass the initiative as is then mission accomplished, we are pleased.  And that’s happened, for instance, with the community defense act a couple of years ago.  And that was enacted into law.  But if they do nothing in those 90 days, if partisan bickering again degenerates this issue where better minds cannot prevail, then at the end of 90 days, we will have the opportunity to collect another 250,000 to 300,000 more signatures to place it on the ballot in 2015 and let the people of Ohio decide.

Democrats have fought the photo i.d. requirement in the past because they say it will disenfranchise low income voters.  Ed FitzGerald, the Democrat running for Ohio Governor, says he doesn’t like the Christian Coalition’s plan.

FitzGerald – I don’t know what voter i.d. has to do with Christianity and I haven’t seen their proposal but again, it’s another area where there are a few states in this country that are looking at restricting voting rights.  As our own Secretary of State has said, there’s not any kind of significant voter identification fraud in this state so I’m not sure what problem it is really addressing.  If anything, we should be talking about how to make voting in this state more accessible and easier for people as opposed to trying to send messages out that I think are going to actually suppress the vote.

Democrats are working on putting their own voting-related issue on the ballot. Among other things, it would make current voter identification requirements – which do not include showing photo ID – part of the Ohio constitution.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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