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Don't Get Purged: Ohio Advocates Reach Out To Infrequent Voters

Franklin County Board of Elections director David Payne talks to a voter on Saturday, the day after the county set an all-time in-person early voting record of more than 6,800 voters.
Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio
Franklin County Board of Elections director David Payne talks to a voter.

Voting rights groups scurried throughout Ohio to meet the deadline for voter registration, and one reached out to possible voters in unusual ways.

No one has been removed from Ohio’s voting rolls since a lawsuit in 2016, but the state’s six-year process of removing voters was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

There are now more than 8 million registered voters in Ohio, but after the November election, those who cast ballots infrequently could be taken off the rolls when a court order preventing that action expires. An estimated 1.5 million voters could be removed.

Mike Brickner says his group, All Voting Is Local, compiled a list of voters who are in danger of being removed. So far, they’ve reached out to nearly a half million registered voters.

“We have started outreach to them through a texting campaign, where we have been encouraging them to verify and update their voter registration to make sure they are accurate," Brickner says.

Brickner says his group will continue to reach out to voters through Election Day. But his group isn’t just focusing on infrequent voters – they’re also working with Ohioans who are in county jails around the state.

“The only people who are disenfranchised because of a criminal conviction are people who are in jail or prison after they have been convicted of a felony,” Brickner explains. “So if you are there pre-trial and you’ve not been convicted of anything, you can vote. If you are in jail for a misdemeanor conviction, you can vote. If you are out on parole or probation, you are able to vote.”

Brickner says he doesn’t know how many people behind bars have registered at this point, but he says 72 were registered in Lake County in one jail over the weekend.

He says his group will also maintain communication with people who registered in jail throughout this election season to make sure they can vote if they want.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.