COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans would be required to present photo ID at the polls and have fewer days to apply for absentee ballots or to vote early in person under sweeping elections legislation that cleared the Republican-state Legislature early Thursday as lawmakers worked through the night to finish their current session.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said later Thursday that he would need to read the final bill before deciding whether to sign it.
“The last two secretaries of state have both said that we have a very good system in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said. “It’s easy to vote, hard to cheat, so I think we already have a good system in the state of Ohio.”
Besides imposing Ohio's first photo ID requirement on voters, the legislation outlaws curbside voting and allows for ballot drop boxes but limits those to one per county. Both practices were popularized during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020.
It also prohibits governments from prepaying return postage on mail-in ballots and steps up the calendar for final ballot counting.
Democrats and voting rights advocates said the changes create additional hurdles for voters.
“There is no need to change anything,” objected Democratic Rep. Richard Brown, of Canal Winchester, who said the legislation doesn't solve any existing problem but would create new ones.
GOP lawmakers said it will protect the integrity of Ohio’s elections and restore voter confidence at a time of great public doubt.
State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, called it a “good step forward” but also said it was a missed opportunity. Seitz had backed legislation with additional provisions such as automated voter registration and allowing multiple drop boxes in a county, and he suggested that the final compromise might have been more to Democrats' liking if they'd been more willing to work with the sponsors on that measure.
Lawmakers also had considered a resolution to place an issue on next year’s ballot that would call for requiring a 60% supermajority to pass future constitutional amendments. That didn't make it to a final vote, but it could be reintroduced after the new General Assembly is seated next month and begins the next two-year legislative session.