More ballots tossed in area counties in wake of new voter ID law

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

More votes were rejected in August than in November of 2022 in most local counties because of voters lacking proper identification as required under a new law this year, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.

August marked the first statewide election since Ohio passed an election reform bill that, among other things, required valid photo ID to vote.

If a voter turned up to their polling location on Election Day without proper ID, they’d have two options: get their photo ID and come back or cast a provisional ballot and provide proper identification to the county board of election within four days after the election.

There’s no data on how many voters were turned away from their polling location due to a lack of ID, but local boards do track how many provisional ballots were cast, and many track the number that were disqualified because of a lack of ID.

In Montgomery County, 1,872 provisional ballots were cast, and 192 were rejected due to a lack of proper ID in August. Comparatively, 4,096 provisionals were cast in November 2022 before the voter ID change, and only 17 were rejected for lack of ID. At that time, acceptable ID included the last four digits of the voter’s social security number or a utility bill.

The same pattern exists in Butler County, where 1,097 provisionals were cast in August, and 124 were rejected due to a lack of ID. In November, only nine of 2,735 provisionals were denied due to a lack of ID.

Butler County Board of Elections officials told this news outlet that while some voters presumed they could use old methods of identifying themselves, including a utility bill, most of the identification issues came from expired drivers licenses.

“We had a lot of people, once we let them know that their license had expired, would go directly to the BMV, get that interim paper, and bring it back to us to have proof of acceptable ID,” said Butler County Board of Elections Director Nicole Unzicker.

In Warren County, 743 provisionals were cast in August, 75 of which were rejected for a lack of ID. In November, only 21 provisionals had been rejected for ID reasons out of 1,646 ballots.

Clark County officials said that 27 of 272 total provisionals were rejected due to ID last month, but zero of the 718 provisionals cast in November were rejected for that reason.

Miami County Board of Elections officials say they saw 348 provisional ballots cast in August, 32 of which couldn’t be counted because the voter did not produce ID. In November 2022, there were 791 provisional ballots, 16 of which were not counted for lack of ID.

Darke County Board of Elections officials said in November 2022, one ballot out of 20,113 was disqualified for any reason, compared to 18 out of 15,224 in August 2023. Sixteen of these were because of lack of proper ID.

Not all counties report an increase in ballots not being counted.

In Greene County, there were 60 provisional ballots not counted because the voter didn’t provide proper ID. Director Alisha Lampert said this is about on par with what officials saw in previous elections.

In Champaign County, elections officials say no provisional ballots weren’t counted because of a lack of proper ID.

Preble County Board of Elections officials say 18 provisional ballots were disqualified, down from 56 in the November election.

Director Lisa Boggs suggested that robust voter education efforts helped in reducing the number of ballots tossed out in Preble.

“We want everybody to have a chance to vote,” said Boggs. “And we want their vote to count.”