Home Politics Opinion: Kasich veto effectively unties state registration with right to vote

Opinion: Kasich veto effectively unties state registration with right to vote

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Is it accurate to say that with Governor John Kasich’s most recent and publicized veto of a provision in the transportation budget is the most fair that Republicans in Ohio have been concerning voting rights over the last several years? Or is it just a good stand-alone decision by the governor?

Backing up, on April 1, Gov. Kasich vetoed a legally questionable and definitely sketchy provision of the transportation bill that went to his desk from the Ohio house.

Kasich most importantly vetoed a provision that would have put an unnecessary hurdle in the way of out-of-state college students trying to vote in Ohio.

The document outlining the veto messages is included in this TNP article.  The document alone in can also be found here.

The issue at hand is the fact that the new language in the transportation budget would have required out-of-state residents who register to vote in Ohio to register their vehicle and pick up a driver’s license within 30 days of moving to the state. This could potentially have affected a large number of Ohio’s 115,000 plus college students.

The memo from the governors’ office notes that in the new amendments to the transportation budget: “No provision for restoring those driving privileges is provided. This item is inconsistent with current Ohio law, which articulates specific steps Ohioans can take to have suspended driving privileges restored.

“These sections also articulate criteria for determining residency for new Ohio residents for the purposes of them obtaining an Ohio driver’s license and registering a motor vehicle. Ohio law already establishes criteria for determining residency, which have been used successfully for many years. Moreover, these changes are potentially confusing to Ohioans and to government institutions.”

Basically what this means is that if out-of-staters had not established residency by registering within 30 days, they could have faced misdemeanor charges and had their ability to claim residency for voting purposes refused.

As pointed out in the aforementioned article from TNP, “The vetoed amendment classified voter registration as one way of establishing residency. People who use an Ohio address when filing federal or state income taxes, who primarily live in Ohio for a reason not affiliated with active military service, or who are determined by the registrar of motor vehicles to fit the standards associated with being a resident are also identified as having established residency.”

While this is all fine and dandy, it’s not entirely pleasing that Kasich let stand the new requirement that the “30-day time limit by which anyone who declares Ohio residency must re-register their cars and get a new driver’s license,” this also written by Robert Higgs of Cleveland.com. It’s not the most pressing matter in this case though. Tying voting capabilities to car and license registration was the worrying thing in question here. On top of this a new driver’s license in Ohio often runs people quite a few bucks.

Making this issue of registration connected to voting was what caused some issues in many minds, most namely Democrats like Representative Kathleen Clyde of Kent.

Mark Kovac of The Crescent-News (Defiance, Ohio) wrote up a quick and efficient synopsis in his article on the matter.

“Democrats and voting advocates quickly voiced opposition to the amendment, saying it would dissuade out-of-state college students from voting, fearful that they could face criminal charges if they didn’t get Ohio driver’s licenses and car titles. Worse, they said, the amendment amounted to a modern-day poll tax, forcing those students to fork over money they don’t have for licenses and plates. Kasich smartly used his line-item veto power to strike the voting language from the final transportation budget, leaving the 30-day deadline in place.”

He also noted about Rep. Clyde, “For Democrats, the veto effectively dealt with the issue. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, an attorney who has focused on elections, is satisfied that the link between voting and driver’s license requirements has been broken.”

So if the Dems are happy with the untying of the connection, then you presumably know it’s probably pretty fair, especially considering the fact that sometimes Dems like to stretch what could or couldn’t be an abuse of voting rights.

The 30-day registration requirement is still in line and will go into effect July 1st.

So does Kasich get a few points for vetoing the new provisions? Sure. But he isn’t going to incur awe and respect for it. In fact, it’s not out of the question that he’s doing this to seem more moderate and reasonable in preparation for a 2016 presidential run. A potential candidate doesn’t want to seem hostile to voting rights before a potential campaign. But Republicans looked to be blatantly finding a way to limit college students ability to vote out-of-state (and if it was a mistake it was a pretty convenient error). The decision by Kasich to effectively untie the relationship between residency and voting as it would have applied under new Ohio law will save a lot of headaches. When it comes to voting, it directly ensures that there is no controversy that will place an undue pain on the plates of college students in this respect.

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