Voting Rights Advocates Urge Ohio Secretary of State to Immediately Stop Voter Purges

Voting Rights Advocates Urge Ohio Secretary of State to Immediately Stop Voter Purges

Type: 
News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2019

COLUMBUS– Ohio voting rights organizations urged Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to immediately stop plans to purge more than 235,000 voters’ registration on September 6.

LaRose’s recent announcement that nearly 1,300 voters were wrongly placed on the purge list, highlights deep flaws in Ohio’s registration system. Voter advocates have identified more than 4,000 additional voters on the purge list (“confirmation status”) who are still considered “active” voters by the Secretary of State’s own registration database, as well as other discrepancies. Advocates stressed that any errors in the registration process threaten the integrity of Ohio’s democracy.

“We are alarmed by these massive errors and urge Secretary LaRose to immediately halt plans to strip more than 235,000 voters from the rolls in a matter of weeks,” said Mike Brickner, Ohio State Director for All Voting is Local. “Thousands of voters are at risk of losing the fundamental right to vote by a system that has been shown time and again to be deeply flawed. If Ohio found these mistakes on its own, we ask: how many more voters have had their right to vote taken from them in error?”

“Ohio’s voter registration process is outdated, confusing, inefficient, and unfair,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director for the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “In fact, the process of purging infrequent voters from the registration rolls is quite possibly making our voter rolls less accurate by removing eligible Ohio voters from the list. We call on the Secretary to stop this process immediately.”

“African Americans had to fight, and some even died, for people of color to get the right to vote,” said Tom Roberts, President of the NAACP Ohio State Conference. “So, why should anyone think because I did not exercise my right to vote, that this right should be taken away? The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and ‘use it or lose it’ is wrong.”

“List maintenance is a necessary process, but it must be done correctly and in compliance with the law to ensure no voter is improperly removed,” said Dylan Sellers, Ohio Coordinator for Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. “Given the problems we have already seen in just four counties, the Secretary of State must take extra time to ensure no voter’s registration is wrongly canceled and that no one is wrongly denied a ballot — risks that would of course be eliminated if Ohio had same day registration.”

The voter rights groups have pledged to reach out to at-risk voters through text, phone calls, and digital media to encourage Ohio voters to update or confirm their registration before the September 6, 2019 deadline. However, the groups urge Secretary LaRose to halt the purge process given the many problems that have come to light.

Advocates also raised additional concerns with the purge process, including:

  • The short timeframe voter advocates have to reach Ohioans at risk of being purged.
  • The ineffective and confusing mailings to voters in the supplemental process.
  • Confusion and difficulty navigating the Secretary of State’s “Registration Reset” database.
  • No information provided to voter rights groups regarding why a voter appeared on the purge list including for known reasons like death and moving out of state.
  • Voters from historically disenfranchised communities are most at risk of being purged.

PDF iconClick here to view a public letter to the Secretary of State from All Voting is Local, League of Women Voters of Ohio, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Fair Elections Center. 

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All Voting is Local fights to eliminate needless and discriminatory barriers to voting before they happen, to build a democracy that works for us all. It is a collaborative campaign housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; the American Constitution Society; the Campaign Legal Center; and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. For more information about All Voting is Local, visit https://allvotingislocal.org and follow us on Twitter @votingislocal.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio is a nonpartisan peoples organization that has worked since 1920 to improve elections, defend democracy, and empower voters. The League encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, www.lwvohio.org or 614-469-1505.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is a civil rights organization in the United States founded in 1909 as a bi racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans. Since its inception the NAACP has always strived to have a strong working relationship with voters of every background . Our thrust is fighting for human , and civil rights for people of all ethnic backgrounds , sexes, races, religion, creeds and to ensure everyone has a right to “VOTE.”

Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan voting rights and election reform 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to use litigation and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, particularly those disenfranchising underrepresented and marginalized communities, and to improve election administration. Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting. CVP’s goal is to help campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.

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Ohio