Testimony of Jennifer Brunner
(These are Jennifer Brunner’s prepared remarks. Her actual remarks may
Ohio Senate Rules Committee
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
slightly from the prepared text.)
My name is Jennifer Brunner. I am an attorney in private practice, a
former judge, former Legislative Counsel to the Ohio Secretary of State
and a former member of the Franklin County Board of Elections. I
appreciate your time this afternoon.
I am here to testify in opposition to the provisions of Sub. House Bill
No.3 that will require voters to present identification to be able to
vote. Under the provisions of the bill as presented to the committee on
Monday of this week, here are the steps a previously registered voter
would have to take to be able to vote.
1. Present a current and valid photo identification that includes:
a. The voter’s name
2. If this is not available, present a copy of a current utility bill,
bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government
document that shows name and address of voter.
b. The voter’s address
c. The voter’s photo
d. An expiration date that has not expired, and
e. Is issued by the US or Ohio government.
3. If these are not available, provide the last 4 digits of the voter’s
social security number, BUT this only will allow for a provisional
4. If the voter does not wish to do this, sign an affirmation, BUT this
only will allow for a provisional ballot.
While this bill is a stated attempt to prevent fraud, at the same time,
it allows, for the first time, election documents to be signed by
someone other than the voter. These provisions just don’t square with
one another with the bill’s stated reason being to prevent fraud. The
old maxim is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Our current system, one where election officials compare signatures to
confirm identity, where a challenge has always been available if there
is a question, and the threat of felony criminal prosecution looms, has
worked well and been judged effective in election after election.
It’s been said in these proceedings that the proposal to require voter
identification is a move away from using signatures to verify
identification. That is impracticable with the petition process we
continue to utilize. For petitions, requesting and returning absentee
ballots, registering and voting, signatures have been the hallmark of
voter identification. Will the next step be to require petition
circulators to obtain identification from each signer before they can
sign a petition? I don’t think that our founders intended such
obstacles to petitioning our government for the redress of grievances.
Since 2002, according to the League of Women Voters, there have been
only four individual instances of vote fraud in the entire State of
Ohio. Mandating a technical and cumbersome identification process is a
“solution” that creates a problem.
This provision disproportionately affects the elderly, the impoverished
and minority communities in Ohio. It also affects many young and
first-time voters who may not have yet obtained a proper form of ID. A
recent Wisconsin study finds that 30% of youth from 18 to 24 years do
not have official state identification, with 98% of college students
having only non-local IDs. The League of Women Voters in Ohio found
that 4% of adults 18 and over do not have a driver’s license or state
issued ID, more than 300,000 Ohioans. Many elderly Ohioans no longer
have driver’s licenses.
Even if you can’t identify with persons in these groups, imagine the
scenario where your wife, son or daughter, or your sister or your
elderly uncle appears at the polls at 7:00 p.m., one-half hour before
closing time. He or she doesn’t realize until arriving at the polling
location that they do not have their photo ID with them. They can’t get
home and back in time to bring another photo ID or any other required
paperwork. Let’s say they go ahead and give the last 4 digits of their
social security number or sign an affirmation. They will not be able to
vote like everyone else at the polling place. They will be
relegated to voting a provisional ballot, something that is not even
defined in Ohio law, even though they are in the correct precinct and
even though they sign the poll book and their signature matches.
At the same time, because you are eliminating the ability for the board
of elections or Secretary of State to utilize split shifts of poll
workers, you have a retiree working the 13-plus-hour day at the polling
place who must use discretion to determine if the ID presented is
valid. All the while, lines keep getting longer, people are getting
tired, pollworkers are getting tired, and people are upset and
uncertain about being told they can only vote a provisional ballot,
when many times, they have known their pollworkers for years, and their
pollworkers know them. Do you really want to be responsible for setting
up this scenario, in light of so little evidence that there is a
Then there is the issue of giving up private information, such as the
last 4 digits of their social security number. Already, many businesses
ask only for the last 4 digits of a social security number to verify
identity. So why would a criminal need the rest of the numbers?
Ohioans, in order to exercise the most basic franchise of democracy—to
vote—will be entrusting to their government—whose records are
public—their most sensitive and private information.
Voting is a personalized matter. Voters don’t see and don’t care about
what goes into the overall process—what they care about is what is
their individual voting experience. Were they able to vote quickly and
easily? Were they treated courteously? Were they given privacy without
the pollworker or another person looking over their shoulder? Do they
feel confident that their vote will be counted accurately? Did they get
their sticker to show they voted? These are the things that matter to
The voter identification requirements in Sub. H.B. 3 will not allow
voters to answer “yes” with confidence to any of the above questions,
(except perhaps whether or not they got their sticker.)
How many times have you paid for something at a store, and the clerk
states the sales tax and grumbles, “And this much for the government”?
What will the quip be on election day when the poll worker asks for a
signature, then for identification, then perhaps for more
identification, then tells the voter that they can’t use the new
machines and have to move to another area and vote where, perhaps there
isn’t the same amount of privacy, and all of this must happen in front
of their neighbors? I can assure you it will be more than a grumble.
The voter identification requirements of Sub. H. B. 3 are a bad
idea—they are a “solution” that creates a problem and will put our
state into further disgrace as to how we run our elections. I urge you
to defeat this provision.