Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Wednesday that 97,795 voters were removed from the rolls after Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections identified the abandoned registrations as part of the maintenance process required by Ohio and federal law.
“Getting rid of bad voter data from the voter rolls helps prevent fraud, makes it easier for county boards of elections to do their jobs, and strengthens the confidence Ohioans place in our elections,” LaRose said.
The purge process began in 2016 when registrants who had been inactive for two years at that point received notification to determine if they were at the registered address and wished to remain a registered voter. “If that record remains inactive for another four years or six years of total inactivity, it must be removed from the voter rolls,” the secretary of state’s release stated.
On August 17, LaRose released to all county boards of election Directive 2020-14 announcing a December 7 deadline by which boards had to identify for removal inactive registrants.
Between the August directive and the December deadline, 18,000 Ohioans took action to keep their active voter status – 10,000 did so by voting in the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s important to understand that once a confirmation notice has been sent, law explicitly requires the cancellation of an inactive registration if it has not had voter activity over the next four years. In this case, the previous administration issued two directives in 2016 ordering county boards of elections to mail notices to electors,” said Larose. “This action started the four-year clock for the cancellation of their registration, pending voter activity.”
The list of inactive registrations will not be updated according to the secretary. The list can be found here.
Eligible Ohio voters who were removed can immediately re-register by visiting the Ohio online voter registration system.
According to the secretary’s office, registration abandonment is “often due to duplicate registrations, moving from the registration address and failing to cancel the original registration, or the death of the registrant.”
LaRose indicated in his statement his desire for another election law that would not require voters to remember to update registrations, instead authorizing government systems to share data that would automatically update information.
“By requiring state government to integrate the technology and resources at its disposal, voters will be able to update their registration information when they interact with state government entities such as the BMV. This improvement will significantly improve the accuracy of Ohio’s voter rolls. This initiative is a priority of Secretary LaRose in the current General Assembly,” the press release said.
LaRose stated that he finds it problematic that voter registration relies on manual data processes, and that 88 counties utilize five different private vendors – each with different software systems – to manage elections across the state. Consequently, the Secretary chose “crowd-sourcing” the inactive registrations – publicly sharing the list for people to check – and asked lawmakers to add a provision to ease voter registration updates.
As of the 2020 election, Ohio had just over eight million registered voters across 88 counties.
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Jack Windsor is State House Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an independent investigative reporter. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.