DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – New Ohio voter requirements are raising a red flag with the Montgomery County Recorder’s office, who said the change will disproportionately impact the state’s veterans.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 458 into law earlier this month. Since then, it’s raised concerns by moving up the deadline for military and overseas ballots, Now there are concerns that veterans won’t be able to use their county-issued veterans ID cards to vote.
“I’ve received calls from many different veterans that have asked, where does this leave me?” Montgomery County Recorder Brandon McClain said.
Montgomery County recorder, and veteran himself, Brandon McClain said he is disappointed to see this law pass because it impacts Ohio’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged veterans.
“We have many veterans in our community who are homeless,” McClain said. “We have many veterans in our community who are on fixed incomes, you know, maybe seniors or just in a very financially tight situation.”
In 2018, McClain implemented a free Veteran ID Card Program to help the 60,000 veterans who live in the Miami Valley.
“In addition to it being a state issued ID, it is also something that currently, the next almost 90 days can be used as a form of voter ID,” McClain said.
After those 90-days, however those IDs will no longer work.
The only eligible forms of ID include an Ohio driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a military ID or a passport.
To avoid creating a poll tax, the law authorized the Ohio BMV to issue a free state ID card to anyone who applies for one.
But McClain said if a veteran does not have access to the BMV, or did not know about the change, they cannot cast their ballot.
“That could ultimately leave them in a point where they’re going to be disenfranchised of their voting rights,” McClain said.
McClain said he plans to talk to Ohio’s lawmakers, and wants to see an amendment to the law to protect the right to vote with a veteran ID card.
“We have a lot of things, I believe, that must be discussed and properly vetted if we are going to have a piece of legislation that sincerely serves our community for the right reasons,” McClain said.
McClain said he encourages anyone with concerns about the new law to reach out to his office and their local lawmakers.
The new law takes effect on April 7, which is days after early voting for the May primary starts on April 4.