Though retired Ohio service members have been able to use those IDs issued by their county’s recorder in past elections, the language of newly passed Ohio House Bill 458 specifically excludes them from the list of acceptable IDs.
Franklin County Recorder Daniel O’Connor Jr. in a recent news release said that change wasn’t communicated.
“If we didn’t look into the fine print of the bill and attempt to notify Franklin County veterans on our own, they could have been turned away at the polls for using the same Recorder-issued veteran ID card they presented on Election Day last November,” he said.
Here’s a chart of acceptable forms of identification for voting and voter registration under the new law, provided by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission:
The county-issued cards, which feature a photo of the holder, are typically used to obtain discounts at local businesses, said Cuyahoga County administrative assistant Don Roy, whose office issues them locally.
Veterans who were honorably or even generally discharged can obtain one by filing their separation documents, or DD-214 forms, with their county. Those with dishonorable discharges are not eligible, he said. They’re good for 10 years, once issued.
But once the new law takes effect in April, voters without acceptable photo IDs will be able to get one for free from the BMV. They need the same required documentation as a county-issued ID, said Rob Nichols, spokesperson for Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
Retired Ohio veterans can also apply for a federally issued ID through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or vote absentee by providing the last four digits of their Social Security number.
“The secretary supports HB 458, and the overwhelming majority of Ohioans and Americans support photo ID,” Nichols wrote in an email to FOX 8 News. “Any voter who wants a state ID will soon be able to get one free of charge from their BMV.”
The new law takes effect on April 7, days after certain markers on the state’s elections calendar. The deadline for voter registration for the state’s May primary election is April 3, and early in-person voting and absentee voting is scheduled to begin the following day, April 4.
Jon Reiss, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission, said the commission was unaware of the change, and now plans to review its impact on county veterans. He said veterans who may need help getting a state-issued ID or driver’s license should reach out to the office.
“It was clearly a surprise to many, including myself,” Reiss wrote in an email to FOX 8 News. “We are committed to ensuring that all Cuyahoga County veterans and dependents who are eligible to vote have the opportunity and means to do so.”
The Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission can be reached by phone at 216-698-2600.
House Bill 458 was also criticized for moving up the deadline by which military and overseas voter ballots must arrive at county election boards to be counted — or be otherwise discarded — from 10 days after Election Day to four days.
“This bill treats our military serving all over the world as less than citizens,” Connie Pillich, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party’s Veterans and Military Community Caucus, said in a December statement.
Republican state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, who championed the tightened ballot deadline, said Ohio’s previous window was “an extreme outlier” nationally, the Associated Press reported. She said Ohio’s military and overseas voters still have ample time under the new law.
“While there is certainly more work to do, this new law drastically enhances Ohio’s election security and improves the integrity of our elections, which my constituents and citizens across the state have demanded,” she said.