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Ohio Secretary Of State Asks Election Boards Not To Purge Some Voters

Debbie Holmes

The Ohio Secretary of State is in the process of removing more than 200,000 voter registrations from the rolls, although he's making some last-minute exceptions to the purge.

The purge was scheduled to move forward Friday after a federal judge denied a lawsuitby the Ohio Democratic Party to stop the process.

Instructions issued at Friday's deadline by Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose prohibit county election boards from canceling registrations listed as active, lacking adequate voter history or impacted by vendor errors.

LaRose also required boards to check in-person, online and mailed registration updates before proceeding.

The voter roll cleanup intends to remove voters who have died, moved out of state or have been inactive for years. But the state Democratic Party voting rights advocates insist there are thousands who should remain registered. They point to the latest list of more than 20,000 Franklin County voters who flagged for confirmation as an example of people who could be removed without cause.

Jen Miller, director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, found her own name on a list of voters in Franklin County that was flagged to go through the process of being confirmed as a registered voter, the first step in the voter removal process. She says there’s no reason for it.

“It does not make sense. I’ve voted in every election,” Miller says. “I have not moved. And so this raises additional concerns that our decentralized process could be creating big mistakes in the voter rolls.”

Miller’s not on the list of voters being removed now, but she says being on the list for confirmation for future removal proves different boards of elections are handling the process differently.

Miller says the Secretary of State’s instructions are strong and a step in the right direction, if the boards of elections follow them. The Secretary of State’s office hasn’t yet commented.

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.