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DeWine says backers of Ohio election law changes must show why they're needed

A sign directs voters to their polling location inside a library in Columbus.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
A sign directs voters to their polling location inside a library in Columbus.

Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House have introduced a bill to further strengthen voter ID requirements, and would also allow for hand-counting of ballots if a county or its voters want that. But Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s not convinced there’s a need for this bill.

DeWine has already signaled he doesn’t want to sign any more GOP-proposed bills that make it harder to vote.

“The burden of proof is on those who say we need to change the law. When I signed the last reform bill, I said, as far as I was concerned, we were done," DeWine said. "If there’s new facts that come up or new problems that come up, then we can look at that.”

The last election law changes bill DeWine signed was House Bill 458, in January 2023. That sweeping measure requires voters to show photo ID, limits each county to one secure ballot drop box, shortens the window in which mailed-in ballots must arrive to be counted from 10 days to four, cuts the window for provisional voters to provide missing information from seven days to four, and eliminates special elections in August except in cases of fiscal emergency.

Related: Ohio bill on voting law changes would require security reviews, allow hand-counting of ballots

The law has been challenged in court several times, including by opponents of the August 2023 ballot issue to require 60% voter approval to amend the constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the law didn't apply to resolutions proposed by state lawmakers.

House Bill 472 would require nearly all voters have a valid Ohio driver’s license or state ID to register or vote by mail, instead of just the last four digits of a Social Security number. It would require a voter to cast a provisional ballot if an elections official determines their ID photo doesn't match their appearance.

HB 472 would set cybersecurity rules for voting machines and electronic pollbooks. It would allow hand-counting of ballots if a board of elections, a county commission or a county's voters want to require that. And it would ban boards of elections from scanning early ballots before the polls close on election day. The executive director of the Ohio Association of Elections Officials said that would delay results.

DeWine made his comments in a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.