Voter ID Bill Sponsor Resigns After Drunk Driving Charge
Ohio state Representative Robert Mecklenborg announced Sunday that he is resigning after news of a drunk driving charge became public. Rep. Mechlenborg, chairman of the House Government and Elections Committee and sponsor of a controversial bill requiring voters to show a valid photo ID to register, was arrested in Indiana last April for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and with an expired driver's license. According to media reports, he was accompanied in his car by a young woman and was found with Viagra in his system. His announcement of resignation came just days after Republican House speaker William Batchelder publicly asked him to leave office.
Information regarding the arrest was not made public at the time, but surfaced late last month, just one day after Mecklenborg delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor in favor of House Bill 125, which would ban abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat.
Mecklenborg sponsored a voter ID bill (HB 159) just days after the arrest and without a driver's license of his own. The most restrictive state voter ID bill yet, it would require voters to show one of the following at the polls: Ohio state ID card, Ohio driver's license, Military photo ID, or U.S. passport. According to American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, HB 159 could deny the right to vote to thousands of citizens who do not have the very limited acceptable forms of identification. They claim that it would disproportionately affect low-income, disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, college students, and the elderly. The bill has passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.
Media Resources: Boston Herald 7/18/11; TPM 7/18/11; Columbus Business First 7/18/11; Columbus Dispatch 6/30/11; American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio 6/30/11