No Final Totals Yet On Ohio Voter Registrations Removed

Sep 8, 2019

As many as 200,000 registrations may have been removed from the rolls by county boards of elections starting on Friday.

Though the removals started then, a final total won’t be available till the end of this week, after boards of elections report the numbers they deleted to the state. 

Secretary of State Frank LaRose stresses most of those removed are dead voters or duplicate registrations. Voting rights groups tried to stop the process, which they call purging, because they feared thousands of eligible voters would be removed by mistake. LaRose admitted there are flaws in the system that this uncovered.

“What we saw with this process was some error, some vendor error that is unacceptable," LaRose said.

LaRose ordered some exemptions. For instance, counties couldn’t delete voters who’ve moved within the county or who are still listed as active in the state’s database.  Voters also couldn't be deleted if they were o the list because of vendor errors. They won't be deleted if they were not listed in "confirmation” status in those county voters rolls after mailings were sent in 2015, and if their history is missing between 2013 and 2019.

LaRose said of the original list of 235,000 targeted for removal and sent last chance notices earlier this year, 12,500 voters are now active. LaRose said they responded to those mailings, they updated their registrations online, they were contacted by voting rights groups or took some other action to reactivate their registrations.

This is the second "purge" this year. The first mass removal of registrations happened in February, under a directive from former Secretary of State Jon Husted. LaRose attempted to reach out to re-register those voters, and got only 540 responses.

There are two bills in the legislature that LaRose said would modernize and streamline the process. One would allow registrations to be updated automatically when voters re-register or have contact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Former Secretary of State Jon Husted instituted that as a directive.

The other would expand the authority of the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners to certify voting registrations system vendors.