- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed a proposal last week that critics say could have discouraged out-of-state college students living in Ohio from voting in the swing state.

Still, some lingering questions remain after Kasich struck wording related to when new residents must register their vehicles here and get an Ohio driver’s license. The plan was tucked into the state’s two-year, $7 billion transportation budget.

Here’s a look at some questions and answers about the proposal:

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Q: What was the debate over this provision?

A: At issue was how “resident” was defined for the purposes of getting Ohio driving documents. Democrats and the Ohio chapters of the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union had claimed that the bill’s phasing might have deterred out-of-state college students from voting here, because registering to do so would have specifically triggered a 30-day window requiring them to obtain an Ohio driver license and plates for their cars or face new penalties. Some critics equated that to a “poll tax” on students, who are seen as leaning Democratic. GOP supporters said the requirement was intended to set a deadline in law.

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Q: What did the governor scrap from the bill?

A: Kasich used his line-item-veto pen on wording that would have specifically defined new residents - for the purposes of obtaining driving documents here - as those who have registered to vote in Ohio or filed their taxes under an Ohio address. Such actions would have directly required those wanting to drive to also get an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicles within 30 days or face penalties. He also vetoed certain penalties that would have suspended new residents’ driving privileges if they hadn’t yet obtained Ohio licenses or tags.

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Q: Why did Kasich use his veto power?

A: The governor said the new residency standards were “potentially confusing to Ohioans and to government institutions.” He said Ohio law already establishes criteria for determining residency. And the penalties, he said, were inconsistent with current law and provided no way for drivers to restore suspended driving privileges.

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Q: Were any parts of the licensing-and-registration proposal signed into law?

A: Yes. Kasich left in place a 30-day deadline for new residents to get an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicles here, along with some penalties drivers could face if they do not.

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Q: I’m a college student from out of state who’s living in Ohio. Can I vote here?

A: Yes, as long as you are a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election and intend to stay. Nothing in Ohio’s election law has changed. But if you have questions about meeting the state’s residency requirements, contact your local board of elections.

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Q: As an out-of-state college student, can I still drive here with my home-state license?

A: Yes. Ohio recognizes the valid driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations of temporary residents, such as students, who intend to return to live in their home states or elsewhere.

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Q: So as an out-of-state college student in Ohio who has registered to vote here, can I still drive here with my home-state license under this law?

A: It’s complicated. If you consider yourself to have relocated to Ohio and intend to stay here for the foreseeable future after college, then you’d probably meet the definition of a resident for driver’s license purposes. If you do not intend to remain in Ohio, then you could probably continue to use your valid driver’s license from elsewhere. There are a variety of factors involved in determining residency for driver’s license purposes, so you may want to check with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

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Q: When does the 30-day clock in the bill start ticking?

A: That’s hard to say. When a driver decides that he or she is an Ohio resident.

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Q: How will the deadline be enforced?

A: State and local law enforcement officials will enforce it once the law takes effect July 1. Violators could face a minor misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $150. It’s worth noting that motorists with improper registrations and licenses are often pulled over for other violations, such as speeding or running a red light.

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Q: What does it cost new residents to get Ohio driving documentation?

A: They can expect to pay about $77 for a license and registration, depending on the county in which they live. Insurance changes might also cost them.

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Follow the reporter at https://www.twitter.com/asanner .

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