Voter ID’s $7 Million Ohio Price Tag: Building barriers to the ballot box isn’t cheap
The American Prospect - April 27, 2012
The fight over voter identification laws generally gets debated over two major questions. 1) How important is it to stop in-person fraudulent voting (despite virtually no evidence that this is a problem)? And 2) How important is it to protect access to the ballot, particularly for those who have faced discrimination in the past? Poor and minority citizens are less likely to have photo IDs, meaning the laws may suppress voting among vulnerable communities. Though there are obvious partisan implications, voter ID debates are generally moral debates about the nature of voting and citizenship.
But in Ohio, where lawmakers are considering a strict photo-ID requirement, one think-tank took a different approach: Just how much will this whole thing cost?
Turns out quite a bit. According to a report from Policy Matters Ohio, the measure would likely cost the state up to $7 million. From the report:
Assuming the lower $8.50 per-ID cost (the current cost of a state ID in Ohio), the total cost would be $6.75 million per year if all voters without IDs were provided one, and $4.85 million per year if only 67 percent of voters (the turnout in the last presidential election) were to request one. Assuming a $13 cost per ID – the actual cost the state of Indiana incurred for a similar program – Policy Matters found an annual cost of $6.94 million for all voters or $4.98 million for 67 percent of voters.
Currently Ohio requires some form of identification to vote, but it needn’t be a photo ID. However, last year, the state House passed a strict photo ID measure and while it failed the Senate then, many expect another fight this year. As the report notes, Ohio is in a bit of a budget crisis. The state’s latest mid-budget review includes $92 million in proposed cuts, including cuts to local election boards.
But evidently, the conservative approach isn’t always cheap.