A federal judge has extended a ruling that requires elections officials to count provisional ballots when voters use partial Social Security numbers as ID. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.
The ruling means that voters who don't have or want to use proof of address can use the last four digits of their Social Security numbers as identification on provisional ballots, and that those ballots will be counted no matter where they’re cast. Advocates for the homeless sought the ruling, which they say ensures uniformity and voter protection.
Subodh Chandra represented the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
"The consent decree ensures that we have broadly expansive and franchising definitions of voter ID," Chandra said. "So all kinds of voter ID will be honored and there won’t be an ability to pick and choose and restrict the types of voter ID that are used."
But Secretary of State Jon Husted says the ruling doesn’t change anything for Ohio voters. However, he says there are still plenty of murky issues with regard to ID that voters can use.
"Frankly, I think one of the things that the judge would agree on and I would agree on is that the General Assembly does need to act to make sure that we have a law in place that is clear about what forms of identification can be used to qualify your ballot for counting," he said.
And Husted says he wants the issue finalized, which is why he says he’s been fighting the homeless advocates on this decree.
"We believe that the Ohio Revised Code should be the governing authority, and not an agreement between a secretary of state and a judge," he said. "That’s what democracy is about -- it’s about the publicly elected officials, through the legislative process, making the rules under which an election is run."
But Chandra says he’s disappointed that Husted keeps fighting the decree.
"The secretary of state’s approach always seems to be to try to restrict the right to vote," he said, "and what our clients have been trying to do is to make sure that everybody has the opportunity, that there’s plenty of opportunity -- plenty of ways, forms of ID to use, plenty times that you can go and vote. And so it’s been very upsetting to see this effort to try to restrict and narrow and make things more difficult.”
The order from Judge Algenon Marbley runs through 2016 -- so it covers the next presidential election in Ohio, unless state lawmakers change the law or another lawsuit is filed.