Ohio Won't Have a Poll Tax After All

How can there be a poll tax in Ohio when the 24th Amendment to the Constitution forbids one? That’s easy—don’t call it a poll tax. Ohio Senate Republicans inserted a last minute amendment to the state transportation budget after the public hearings were over. (I wonder why they didn’t want public discussion of this amendment.)

The amendment requires people from out of state who register to vote in Ohio to reregister their vehicles with Ohio after 30 days. According to the DMV, registration typically costs between $35 and $105. Why would I call this a poll tax? Because the Supreme Court has ruled that students may vote at their college address. Therefore out of state students at Ohio’s colleges and Universities may vote in Ohio.

However since this new provision in the state transportation budget was accepted by the House, out of state students who own cars or motorcycles will have to fork out up to $100 if they want to vote in Ohio. This is a fee that they will have to pay only if they vote here. So, yes, it is a poll tax by another name.

Why would the Republicans in the Legislature do this? Might it be because the vote in most Ohio college towns went heavily in Obama’s favor in 2012? Might it have something to do with the fact that there are 116,000 out of state students in Ohio who tend to vote for Democrats? Perish the thought say Republicans. We merely want students to fulfill their responsibilities as Ohio citizens. Of course these “Ohio citizens” will still be charged out of state fees.

Though the House and Senate approved this provision in the budget, fortunately Ohio was saved from this shame by Kasich eliminating it by line-item veto. I wish I could believe him did it for the right reasons. Unfortunately he probably did it because he’s looking to run for President and knew the provision would look bad to rational voters.

While out of state students won’t face a poll tax after all, we should remember that the Republicans in the House and Senate tried to make them do so. Once again the Republicans figure their chances of winning are better if fewer people vote.