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Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary Of State, Talks About Need To 'Streamline' Voter ID Requirements

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Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaks during a rally at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Zanesville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted speaks during a rally at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Zanesville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has been fighting a lawsuit from the Obama campaign trying to restore early voting, said voter identification requirements needed to be streamlined, and that the General Assembly would take up a "more strict" version of Ohio's voter ID requirements.

"I was listening to a show one night where they talked about these onerous rules, these onerous photo ID rules and the onerous rules in Ohio on photo ID,” he said at a Tea Party event in Cincinnati, according to audio circulated by the Ohio Democratic Party. “Well, the photo ID law in Ohio is not onerous. As a matter of fact, I suspect the General Assembly will take up a more strict version of what we have after what we’ve been through with this election process."

Answering a question from an audience member who complained about the number of forms of ID allowed at polling places, he said, "We need to streamline that because it's really hard for a poll worker to know exactly what they're supposed to be checking, and I'm quite confident the legislature's going to take that up.

State Democrats saw it as proof of a "new attack" on voting rights. "As if Secretary of State Husted has not done enough to undermine access to Ohio’s polls, now he’s planning a secret post-Election Day assault on what forms of identification voters can present to cast a ballot,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.

Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said that wasn't the case. "The secretary was asked a question about all the forms of voter ID that are accepted, and any simplification of that process would be welcomed," he told HuffPost.

He added that Husted still opposes stricter voter ID laws. "The comments made were general, and his position remains unchanged on voter ID, and any voter ID reforms should allow alternate forms of photo ID."

Husted opposed a bill, similar to the Pennsylvania law that is currently being litigated by state courts, to require voters to show a driver's license, passport, military ID or other state-issued ID at the polls.

Current Ohio law requires voters to show some sort of proof of residency to vote -- an ID, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or government check or government document. If the driver's license address shows a former address, then the voter is allowed to cast a ballot so long as the current address is on the voter rolls.

According to the Brennan Center, as many as 11 percent of eligible voters lack government-issued photo ID, and those that do so are more likely to be elderly, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students.

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