U.S. & World News

Inactive voter registrations purged

Ohio removed 180,000 voters from state roles before registration deadline

By Will Pembroke | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Ohio election officials removed more than 180,000 voters from state registration roles. Officially referred to as a “purge,” the removal began on Sept. 6.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office claimed that many of the removed registrations were either duplicate registrations or were from residents who had moved away without notifying the Postal Service. Most, however, were removed because of the so-called “supplemental process,” in which voters who have not cast a ballot within the last six years are removed unless they take action to stop it.

The removal of registrations has proven controversial. Law-abiding voters are taking issue with how Ohio has handled its voting process.

The last day to register to vote in Ohio was on Monday.

“It is important to make sure our election system is well maintained and protected from interference, both foreign and domestic, but I am not sure this is the best way to go about it,” first-year Jacob Lyons, a longtime Ohio resident, said.

In June, 230,000 voters received “last chance” notices from the state of Ohio informing them that they were in danger of getting their registration revoked. Community outreach groups across Ohio attempted to urge these voters to act quickly, saving roughly 20% of the pool from having to re-register before the 2020 election, according to the Associated Press.

This process of voter registration purging has faced contention for many years. Lawsuits have been filed calling into question the constitutionality of the ability to dispose of registrations in such a manner.

The Supreme Court voted in a 5-4 ruling to uphold the practice last year.

Voting rights activists have argued that this process routinely disenfranchises voters who may not otherwise know what is happening, leading to lower voter turnout on Election Day.

LaRose, a Republican, has advocated on behalf of new legislation to help modernize the registration system and reach higher levels of voter security in Ohio.

“It’s time to fix that imperfect system. That’s why we’ve already endorsed new legislation that will modernize our registration system and bring the improvements necessary to develop the accurate and secure voter rolls Ohioans deserve,” LaRose said.

 Some of the bills he has favored would toughen oversight on the companies that counties hire to help maintain registration lists, as well as legislation to ease the process for voters to renew their expired registrations.

On the other hand, State Democratic Chair David Pepper, has criticized LaRose’s management of the voter registration cancellation process since he took office. Democrats attempted to sue in September to delay the purge, which ultimately failed.

“Despite Secretary LaRose’s unprecedented levels of transparency and collaboration, certain partisans have attempted to utilize the opportunity for their own political gain. But much worse, they have used fear tactics to scare voters,” said Pepper.

Voters can check OhioSoS.gov/FreshStart to see if they were affected by the purge.  

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