Ohio Lawmakers “Duck and Govern” on Voter Fraud

Imagine if U.S. border agents suddenly decided to stop requiring those crossing the border to show identification. What if Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “If you cross the border illegally, you will be caught,” but then ordered agents to stop checking ID’s? Would the American people have any confidence in their government’s overtures toward border security?

Obviously, the very notion of border security would be nonsense without a rigorous system of identifying individuals who wanted to enter the country.

Yet by the same measure, “election security” in Ohio is just that laughable.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recently released Post-2012 General Election Voter Fraud Report does not address one of the most serious concerns in our elections: voter identification. The report says that not only is voter fraud minimal in Ohio, but that the state will catch cheaters despite any effort to truly identify voters:

“This report demonstrates that voter fraud does exist; but it is not an epidemic. More importantly, our effort to look into irregularities and root out voter fraud sends a strong message that no amount of fraud is acceptable. If you cheat, you will be caught and held accountable.”

But can Husted, or anyone in Ohio, say with any certainty that cheaters—in particular, those who falsify their identities—will be caught? 

Those who oppose photo ID requirements for voting often point to the absence of evidence that voter ID fraud is occurring. They employ an age­-old tactic–long-recognized as a logical fallacy–called “proof by lack of evidence.” When detractors say there is no evidence of ID fraud, it is important to understand that lack of evidence proves only one thing: that there is a lack of evidence. It does not prove that fraud does not exist. Without an ID system, Husted has no way of knowing whether three people or 300,000 people are committing voter ID fraud in Ohio.

Though poll workers have many tools at their disposal to ensure the integrity of elections, when a voter shows up with a cable TV bill or a 9-month-old paycheck for identification, election officials have no way to verify the identity of the person standing before them and no way to know if the ID the person is presenting is his own. Most poll workers will admit that it would be very easy to commit voter ID fraud and that we have no way to measure the scope of the problem in Ohio.* Yet our naïve Secretary of State can’t conceive of a situation where someone would cheat, saying in 2011,”I believe that if you have a government-issued check, a utility bill in your name with your address on it, that no one made that up.” Husted also reportedly believes in the Tooth Fairy and that all politicians can be trusted.

There are also those who say a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise less fortunate voters who don’t currently possess photo identification. Democrats and their allies—and even some Republicans—like to fear-monger the issue, accusing anyone who advocates for secure elections of trying to “suppress the minority vote.” In 2011 Republicans attempted moderate election reforms, including a photo ID requirement for in-person voting. Cleveland Democrat State Senator Nina Turner said, “The last time I checked, the prerequisite to participate in this democracy was not based on wealth.”

At the time, the far-left group Policy Matters Ohio claimed that a whopping one in ten Ohioans—nearly a million—did not possess a photo ID. It estimated that the provision in the bill to provide a free ID to anyone who could not afford one would cost the state $7 million a year. Their numbers came from a nationwide study that said 11% of voters across the country are without a photo ID and did not take into account actual Ohio data. The Ohio Legislative Services Commission noted that the number of voters without ID was likely much smaller:

“As of March 2011, there were approximately 8.6 million registered voters statewide. According to data from the end of calendar year 2010, there are 8.7 million people in Ohio, age 18 or older, that have either a driver’s license or a state identification card. Thus, it seems likely that the number of registered voters who lack the required identification and are indigent is small.”

The Ohio LSC estimated that providing ID’s to nearly a million voters without ID’s (their extreme high-end estimate) would cost $980,000–only 14% of Policy Matters Ohio’s estimate.

But after threats of lawsuits from progressive groups, and opposition from Secretary of State Husted, Republicans backed down and removed the photo ID requirement.

Ohio Republicans now seem to be taking the “duck and govern approach,” that is, they avoid the photo ID issue like the plague, hoping their constituents won’t notice if they push it off for another year, even though three-quarters of Americans support such a measure. Most Ohio Republican legislators would likely privately support photo ID, but “duck and govern” means going to great lengths to avoid controversial legislation (read on OCR about their approach to Right-to-Work) for fear of a Democrat backlash.

Husted and others have their heads in the sand if they think a handful of prosecutions has sent a strong message that “If you cheat, you will be caught and held accountable.”  As long as Republicans are more afraid of Democrats than cheaters are of consequences for voter ID fraud, Ohioans will never be confident that we have secure and fair elections. The result of this in the short-term is depressed voter turnout and lack of confidence in our elected officials. In the long-term, the result is much more serious: a lack of confidence in the foundation of our representative republic.


*Paula Bolyard is a Precinct Election Official and Presiding Judge.  She describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is a member of the Wayne County Executive Committee and is owner and moderator of the Ohio Homeschool Yahoo! Group. She is a contributor at PJ Media LifestylePJ Media, and RedState.

 All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.