For the first time, the Secretary of State will send voter registration forms to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who were removed from the voting rolls for not voting or updating their addresses with county boards of elections. And while it’s not expected many will be filled out and returned, one voting rights group says it’s a positive move.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said it’s likely the 270,000 people who are getting those registration forms are either dead or have moved.
They have already gotten final notices from county boards of elections that they’re being taken off the rolls after six years of non-voting and not updating their addresses – a process that was upheld by the US Supreme Court last year, but one that LaRose wants to change.
“This hopefully will be the last time that the old supplemental process was carried out. What my office is trying to do is just create one more opportunity to register if they have been removed through that supplemental process,” LaRose said.
The process of removing inactive voters during voter roll maintenance – which some call “purging” – was resumed after the November election.
Jen Miller from the League of Women Voters of Ohio likes she idea of sending out the registration forms, saying some people who were sent final notices by now-Lt. Gov. Jon Husted that their registrations would be deleted might not realize it’s happened.
“The notices from former Secretary of State Husted were confusing and easy to miss. And so it is possible that there are individuals who received those and just didn’t understand what was at stake. And so we do think this extra process is positive,” Miller said.
LaRose’s office said it’ll cost up to $75,000 to send the forms, though voters can register and update registrations online. But Miller said the extra step is important.
LaRose said he’s working with lawmakers to come up with new ways to update the voter rolls with current addresses every time a voter does business with the state – for instance, when they pay state taxes, get state benefits, or even apply for a fishing license. As of last year, addresses are being updated when voters renew their driver’s licenses and tags.
Miller is also hoping the state will consider automatic voter registration, though that’s come up before and gone nowhere.