Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine two bills pending in the Ohio legislature that would implement photo identification requirements before casting ballots and cut the early voting period in a key state in presidential elections.
In a letter to Holder, Fudge said "It is clear that these restrictive voting laws will impact hundreds of thousands of voters in Ohio, a significant number of them African-American, who have voted in record numbers during recent elections."
Ohio's Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering a measure by State Rep. John Becker, R, that would require individuals to show photo ID for in-person voting.
"The purpose of the photo ID bill is to discourage fraud and provide the most basic, common, and reasonable security for voting," Becker said when he introduced the bill last September. "The bill allows for free photo IDs for people who can't afford to purchase one and who are at or below the federal poverty level."
But Fudge called the bill an unconstitutional poll tax. The group Policy Matters Ohio said the bill would adversely impact more than 900,000 Ohio residents who don't have sufficient photo identification.
In the State Senate, Sen. Frank LaRose, R, introduced a bill to cut the state's early voting period from 35 days to 28 or 29.
"Even at 'only' 28 days, Ohio would have one of the nation's longest early-voting periods," LaRose wrote in an opinion/editorial piece in The Columbus Dispatch. "Those who insist that any trimming amounts to voter suppression are engaging in histrionics. Only a few years ago, Ohioans had a single day in which to cast votes."
Fudge told Holder that "in a swing state with a history of legislators manipulating voting laws to limit access, these two recent legislative maneuvers are particularly troubling."