Dems blast LaRose for voter purge

Ohio is undergoing a purge of inactive voters.

Or as Secretary of State Frank LaRose described it, boards of elections are in the process of a “rigorous statewide election integrity initiative aimed at ensuring the accuracy of Ohio’s voter registration database.”

Democrats criticized LaRose, a Republican, for the last purge which was in late September — right after overseas and military ballots were sent out for the November election — and canceled the registrations of nearly 27,000 Ohioans.

Democrats are renewing that criticism.

“Even after the extremely aggressive voter purges before last November’s election that eliminated thousands of registered voters, Secretary LaRose has decided to double down and kick even more Ohioans off of the rolls,” said state Sen. Bill DeMora, D-Columbus and secretary of the Ohio Democratic Party. “It shows Secretary LaRose doesn’t want to run elections at all, he just wants to rig them. The fact that Ohio has such safe and fair elections is purely despite our secretary of state, not because of him.”

State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Westlake and a vocal critic of the last purge, said LaRose “seems more excited about canceling Ohio voters than providing answers and transparency to his process, which seems plagued by politics and inexperience.”

She added: “The problem with purging is that it has removed eligible voters. That’s unacceptable. We need answers.”

During a 2019 purge, it was discovered that a few thousand active voters were incorrectly removed from rolls and deemed inactive. The issue was rectified.

LaRose said of the latest effort: “Every state is required to have an ongoing process to verify the accuracy of its voter rolls, but Ohio has the most advanced and effective protocols in the nation. This work is not only critical to keeping our elections honest, but it’s also essential to making sure our election officials can properly plan for the right number of ballots, voting machines, polling places and poll workers. That starts with keeping accurate voter records.”

Boards of elections have until Tuesday — LaRose’s order for them to review registrations was issued May 2 — to identify those that could be canceled. By May 31, a final registration notice mailer to those potentially being purged must be sent out to give those voters a chance to remain registered.

A voter is considered inactive and could be purged for not voting in the past four years, according to LaRose’s office.

Boards were also directed to identify inactive registrations because a voter moved to a new address and failed to update a registration. The records of those voters are cross-checked with the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address registry and a notice is sent to those voters’ correct addresses asking them to update their status or risk cancelation, according to LaRose’s office.

In addition, LaRose ordered county boards to review their registration data for any records previously flagged for removal after the required four-year waiting period. If the registrations are again confirmed to be inactive, voters are removed from rolls.

Boards of elections also have to check new registrations who had confirmation letters sent to them returned as undeliverable.

The boards have to check Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles records to verify voter registration information matches. If any of the information doesn’t match a person’s voter registration, the voter is notified by a board to update the registration. If that voter doesn’t update then the registration is invalidated.

All inactive registrations to be removed will be listed for public review on the Ohio secretary of state’s website, ohiosos.gov. That, LaRose said, will allow Ohioans to check inactive registrations as a last chance notice before the removal process is initiated.

“These steps should give Ohioans confidence that election integrity is our top priority,” LaRose said. “The process we’re initiating” is “just one part of a larger, aggressive effort to make sure Ohio is ready for another high-profile presidential election this fall.”

Another part of that “larger, aggressive effort” is to have boards of elections initiate a confirmation and removal process of noncitizens from voter rolls. LaRose said his office found 137 voter registrations given to those who have twice confirmed they’re not citizens to the BMV.


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