An acceptable voter purge from Ohio’s election chief


Columbus Dispatch: That’s not a Christmas card tens of thousands of lax voters are about to receive from local election officials.

Ohioans who haven’t been inspired to vote in six or seven years are about to be dropped from the roll under Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s use-it-or-lose-it approach to keeping registrations current.

While it is regrettable for any eligible citizen to not exercise the right to vote for even one cycle, The Dispatch has supported the practice of keeping voter rolls current by removing those who neglect to respond to official queries about their registration after having failed to vote in at least six years.

And the practice, which Husted says precedes his two terms in office, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in June.

It should not raise eyebrows that Husted, in his role as the state’s chief elections officer, is taking action just before he is sworn in as Ohio’s new lieutenant governor in mid-January.

ONE LAST CHANCE

Husted has directed county boards of election to mail out one more notice to voter no-shows by Dec. 12 and to remove any who fail to respond by Jan. 11.

This action is acceptable because many of those who have been chronically inactive but were still carried on their county’s voter registration list likely have moved without notifying elections officials of their new address.

Those who haven’t moved but didn’t vote for whatever reasons should welcome Husted’s invitation to respond and keep their registrations intact.

Even better is the announced approach of Husted’s successor, Secretary of State-elect Frank LaRose, who said he intends to seek legislative approval for more-proactive processes for registering Ohioans who are eligible to vote and efficiently maintaining accurate voter registrations, as promised during his campaign.

LaRose’s praiseworthy idea is that an Ohio resident’s official contact with state government for other purposes would prompt an action to make sure the person is registered to vote, if eligible, and to make any changes to his or her registration are updated.

In an era when an internet search or a credit-card purchase triggers an automated avalanche of related content in email or Facebook feeds, there is no reason for government not to take advantage of computer algorithms to keep voting rolls updated.

Indeed, as a digital society, we have come to expect such automated responses to our online activity, which may have even contributed to some voters’ lethargy about keeping their local board of elections updated on address or name changes.

While abiding Husted’s purge, we look forward to LaRose’s welcome new approach.

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