Resolute Square

The Simple, Brutal Math Of Ohio's New Voter Suppression

Published:April 6, 2023
Republican-blessed new voter ID rules go into effect this week in Ohio and the results are devastating. They hope you won't notice.

*Published with the generous permission of David Pepper. Read and watch more of his work here.

By David Pepper

An enormous win for democracy—and, we can only hope, a blow to gerrymandering— took place in Wisconsin yesterday. Thanks to all who helped make it happen. A textbook example of how we fight back for democracy.

In the meantime, a new attack on democracy hits this week in Ohio as stringent new voter ID restrictions take effect.

To be clear: Ohio has long had a requirement of identification to vote. But the new rules that our gerrymandered legislature passed a few months ago eliminated many of those prior options, narrowing them to just a few forms of photo IDs. And, of course, they made these changes even though there was no evidence that the prior system was allowing voter fraud to occur. It wasn’t. This is voter suppression, plain and simple.

I walk through it in the video, but one analysis found that around 938,000 Ohioans(!) of voting age lack the forms of ID now required to vote. That number eclipses (by a lot) the margin of victory in all but one statewide federal election going back decades. These races are usually determined by 100,000-300,000 votes, so the total number impacted by the new rules blows that number out of the water, which is disturbing in and of itself.

But even worse, studies also show that around 25% of Black voters in Ohio (200,000+ voters) don’t have the forms of ID now required. And young voters (38% of 18-year-olds, 28% of 19-year olds and 20% of voters aged 20-24) also don’t have these IDs. And no accident, the new law does not allow official student IDs to be used to vote. (That would, of course, defeat their decade-long mission of making it harder for young voters to vote).

So….unless something dramatic is done to inform Ohioans about the new restrictions and how they can apply for and receive the IDs now required to vote, a whole lot of voters (who disproportionately vote for Democrats) are going to be turned away this year and next. And that dramatically altered electorate could very well impact outcomes up and down the ballot, dramatically favoring Republicans.

There is a lawsuit in federal court at the moment to try to stop this law, but we can’t count on that to save us. Instead, we have to use this crisis as a rallying cry for democracy in Ohio.

And to explain what we can and must do, be sure to read tomorrow’s newsletter….(to be continued)