Letter to the Editor, Oct. 5, 2012

Kathleen Clyde

Your editorial (“Ohio has it right when it comes to voting ID laws”) demonstrates precisely why voter ID laws are often an obstruction to voting rights. They create mass confusion, scaring people off from exercising their rights.

For example, you stated that in Ohio “all registered voters are given a free voter registration card, or they can use a utility bill, a bank statement or even a government-issued check.” In fact, people are explicitly prohibited by Ohio law from using their voter registration card as ID to vote. College IDs are also not accepted, but your editorial surprisingly did not criticize this absurdity. In an odd workaround, students at state universities can get a utility bill printed by their school that they can use as ID to vote — if students know to seek out that option. If you have no ID, you can still vote with a provisional ballot that will count as long as you are registered and you provide the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Ohio may not have it quite as bad as other states right now, but there is still very little logic to our voter ID law, and it likely discourages many voters from exercising their voting rights. And if that’s not bad enough, Republican legislators are already talking about passing a harsh photo ID law for Ohio right after the election.

Rights, by their very nature, don’t have to be earned. We are born with them. They are inherent in our freedom. We should be very suspicious of any hoops that others force us to jump through to exercise them.

Kathleen Clyde, state representative, Kent