The Columbus Dispatch: Don't forget: Ohio voters need photo ID to cast in-person ballots for Nov. 7 election


Aug 8, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Stickers are given out to voters who cast their ballots during a special election for Issue 1 at the Schiller Recreation Center in German Village. Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch

Ohio saw an uptick in provisional ballots cast during the August election as voters navigated a new photo ID requirement at the polls.

Now, voting rights advocates and election officials are working to ensure fewer Ohioans show up without an ID on Nov. 7.

Ohio Issue 1: What you need to know about November ballot issue on abortion

“The evidence is showing us that there are still a lot of people who don’t understand or don’t know that you need a valid photo ID,” said Nazek Hapasha, policy affairs manager for the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

A new law enacted this year requires voters to present a photo ID if they cast in-person ballots, either early or on Election Day. The measure also changed rules for mail-in voting, drop boxes and the timeline for provisional ballots.

Ohio Issue 2: What Ohioans need to know about November ballot issue to legalize recreational marijuana

If the Legislature tweaks election laws, officials prefer the changes to take effect during odd-numbered years like this when fewer people vote. But that means voter education is a months long effort. While this year’s elections have attracted more attention than usual, some Ohioans won’t head to the polls again until the 2024 presidential election.

Voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to codify the right to an abortion in the state constitution and legalize recreational marijuana.

“There’ll be some learning curves,” said Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. “There’s always a subset of people who only vote in presidential elections, so that’ll be their first interaction with the new ID laws.”

Ballot rejections increase in August special election

That learning curve was apparent in the Aug. 8 special election where voters rejected an issue to change how the state constitution is amended.

Local boards of elections counted over 30,000 provisional ballots and rejected roughly 2,800 because voters failed to provide the correct ID, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Ohioans can cast provisional ballots if they don’t have the required information on Election Day and get four days to cure them under the new law.

The number of ID-related ballot rejections in August was four times greater than November 2022, even though turnout was higher in November. During the May 2023 primary − the first election with the new ID requirements − 245 ballots were turned down because of ID issues, compared to 118 in May 2022.

Ockerman and multiple election groups said they observed more provisional ballots and rejections than usual in August. Many voters tried to use expired IDs or didn’t realize documents that previously qualified, such as utility bills, are no longer accepted.

“We’ve also seen a lot of people who were confused on either what they could use to vote or if they were able to vote at all,” said Vashitta Johnson, the Ohio Voter ID Coalition Coordinator for VoteRiders, a national organization that helps voters obtain the proper ID.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Frank LaRose did not respond to a request for comment.

What kind of ID do I need to vote?

Ohioans voting in-person must present an unexpired photo ID. That can be an Ohio driver’s license, state ID, U.S. passport, passport card, military ID or interim identification issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The ID does not need to have a current address on it.

County-issued veteran IDs do not qualify.

To vote by mail, you can provide a copy of your photo ID, driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

When is early voting?

You can vote early at your county board of elections during these times before Nov. 7:

  • Oct. 24-27: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 30: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 31: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 1-3: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 4: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 5: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

How do I vote by mail?

Voters have until Oct. 31 to request a mail-in absentee ballot. Completed ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 6 and arrive at your local board of elections by Nov. 13 to be counted, which is four business days after the election.

Ballots that aren’t mailed by Nov. 6 can be dropped off at your local board before 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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