Two Ohio Programs Seek to Reach Eligible but Unregistered, Registered but Inactive Voters

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Ohio’s Secretary of State is drawing attention for two programs aimed at the registration rolls – one which seeks to use postcards to add eligible but unregistered voters and another that seeks help in reaching inactive voters in danger of being removed. The Gallion Inquirer has the first story:

Beginning August 26th, 168,395 Ohioans who have been identified as unregistered but eligible to vote will receive a postcard in the mail instructing them how to register to vote.

This initiative is in coordination with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a non-profit organization who assists participating states in the effort to improve the accuracy of their voter rolls and increase access to voter registration. 28 states and Washington, D.C. are members of ERIC.

As a part of this partnership, ERIC and their participating states work to identify eligible citizens who were found on the motor vehicle database, but who are not registered to vote and have never received a similar mailing previously, to receive a postcard that informs them how to get themselves registered.

“Voting is one of our fundamental rights as Americans, and we want every eligible voter to have the chance to exercise that right,” said LaRose. “We expect this effort will reach a lot of younger Ohioans who haven’t yet taken advantage of the opportunity to register to vote, so we’re making sure they’re given every chance to have their voice heard.”

Based on the data provided by the BMV, nearly 120,000 Ohioans under the age of 21 will receive the voter registration outreach postcard.

Ohioans interested in being registered to vote in the upcoming November general election must do so by October 7, 2019. You can register to vote or update your current registration at VoteOhio.gov.

On the flip side, the SoS’ office is also running a program, begun earlier this summer, aimed at enlisting assistance in reaching out to about 235,000 inactive voters who are slated to be removed from the rolls if they do not “reset” their registrations. The Columbus Dispatch had the story:

Ohio voters worried that their registration might be among the 235,610 that could be purged from the rolls in September can search online to see if they are on the chopping block.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office assembled in a searchable database the list of voters who will receive “last-chance notices” from Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections. Those notices had to be mailed by Monday. The database is available at https://www.ohiosos.gov/registrationreset/.

Cuyahoga County has the most voters on the list at 33,997. The 25,435 last-chance notices that will be sent in Franklin County ranks second.

In June, LaRose sent elections boards a directive to clean up their rolls by Sept. 6. He directed the boards to upload a list of inactive voters to his office by July 15 so he could compile the Registration Reset List, a database of inactive voters that community groups can use as a resource in contacting voters to ensure that they respond to the notice, update their registration online at www.voteohio.gov or file a new paper registration.

As September approaches, the AP reports that some groups are asking for more time:

Voting-rights activists say thousands of Ohioans are at risk of being illegally removed from state voting rolls, a figure questioned by the state’s elections chief.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio and other groups asked Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose Thursday to pause the process that will remove some 235,000 voters Sept. 6.

League Executive Director Jen Miller says her organization is exploring all options to stop the process, including lawsuits or ballot initiatives.

LaRose previously enlisted the help of the League and other community organizations to locate targeted voters and help them straighten out their registrations before the deadline.

Both of these programs reflect the impact of new and significant developments in the field of registration: Ohio’s new membership in ERIC, and the recent Supreme Court case upholding Ohio’s process of identifying and removing inactive voters from the rolls. Ohio being Ohio, it’s not surprising that the latter move, at least, is drawing fire – and could draw new political or legislative challenges in the near future. Still, kudos to the SoS and his team for embracing ways to bring new voters into the process while trying to find a way to change the conversation about inactive voters in Ohio – even if it doesn’t yet end the argument. Stay tuned …

 

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