Ohio Purging Inactive Voters from Rolls

Voting rights issues such as requirements for voter photo Ids are being contested in some states ahead of the November 2016 general election. In Ohio, purging of inactive voters from the rolls has gained the attention of civil rights groups.

Voter Registration Purging Just One of Ohio’s Recent Actions to Restrict Voting

Ohio, currently lead by a Republican-majority legislature and executive branch, has been purging voters from the rolls of registered voters those who have not voted since 2008. To be fair, when Democrats have lead the state in the past, they also conducted such voter purging, making this year’s practice of the same not unique to the state or to one party.


Although the exact number of people in Ohio who have been purged from voter registration rolls is unknown, an analysis by Reuters revealed that 144,000 people have thus far been removed in the state’s three largest counties: Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati). Reuters’ analysis of those who have been purged in those counties show that twice as many Democrats as Republicans have been effected by the purging.

Those people who have been purged from active voter registration rolls don’t receive notification of the action. Many people find out about their status when they arrive at their polling place to vote, only to find out they are not longer registered, making them ineligible to vote in that election.

On the federal level, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, often referred to as Motor Voter or NVRA, prohibits states from removing voters from registered status for the solitary reason of inactivity, but also require each state to keep voting records up-to-date.

Ohio’s current process is to remove those people from voter registration rolls who have not voted in three consecutive federal elections, a process that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights groups have labeled as unconstitutional. The ACLU filed suit in April 2016 against Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State, to both stop the purging process and to reinstate voters who have already been purged, alleging violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Husted justified the current process of registration purging saying, “If this is really important thing to you in your life, voting, you probably would have done so within a six-year period.”

If the ACLU is successful in their lawsuit contesting this purging, it would be the third time in recent months that a court has struck down rulings by Ohio. In March 2016, Husted’s ruling that current 17-year-olds who would be 18 in time for the November general election were ineligible to vote in the presidential primary was overturned by a judge in Franklin County. In May, as previously reported by The Daily Voice News, a district court ruled against Ohio for arbitrarily shortening its early voting period, ruling that in doing so the state violated both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Ohio Residents Can Check Their Voter Registration Status Locally or Online; Register to Vote for November 2016 General Election No Later than October 11

Ohio residents who are concerned about their voter registration status can contact their local Board of Elections to determine if they are listed as registers voters or visit RockTheVote.com. By current Ohio law, registration to vote at the polls in the November 2016 election ends on October 11, 2016. Applications for absentee ballots to be mailed to a registered voter for the November general election must be received by the board of elections by noon on November 5, 2016.

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