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LaRose Issues Directive That Fulfills Duty to Maintain Accurate Voter Lists as Required by Law

 

Seeks to Partner with Community Organizations in Effort to Update Voter Registrations

COLUMBUS – Today, Secretary LaRose issued Directive 2019-09, following through with his legal responsibility to implement list maintenance pursuant to both federal and state law. This process was carried out previously by Secretaries Brown, Blackwell, Taft, Brunner and Husted. 

In June 2015, the previous administration issued Directive 2015-09, ordering local boards of elections to mail notices to electors who have been inactive for two years in order to confirm their status as a registered voter. This action started the four-year clock for the cancellation of their registration, pending voter activity. 

Secretary LaRose’s Directive 2019-09 puts in place procedures for local boards of elections to contact identified registrants and then remove those registrations who over the past six years have never: 

  • Responded to the 2015 communication from the county board of elections
  • Voted or had any voter activity
  • Updated or confirmed their address at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Updated their registration
  • Do not respond to the forthcoming mailing advising them of their pending cancellation

To be clear, registrations under consideration for removal have not seen any voter activity in at least the past 12 elections. Additionally, failure to conduct a General Voter Records Maintenance process would result in Secretary LaRose violating both federal and state law. 

While not required by law, Secretary LaRose is calling for several steps designed to reach registrants that wish to continue as registered voters, despite their inactivity. 

Under Directive 2019-09, local boards of elections will be directed to do the following:

  • Send a mailing by July 29, 2019 to the county's inactive registrants that advises them to the cancellation date of September 6, 2019, unless action is taken. 
  • Compile the list of those affected inactive registrants and submit it to the Secretary of State's office by July 15, 2019 for compilation into a Registration Reset List. This list will be provided to community organizations who partner with the Secretary of State. This is a new initiative designed to enlist additional support from organizations interested in ensuring the accuracy of voter registration lists. 
  • Utilize BMV records as a way to verify the registrants address and restore active-voter status for those sent confirmation notices under the 2015 Supplemental Process. 

“The Registration Reset List is an unprecedented effort to give Ohio’s community and grassroots organizations a real opportunity to partner with us in our effort to maintain accurate voter lists,” said LaRose. “We want every eligible voter who wants to participate in the process to have that opportunity, and this initiative will help make that happen.” 

Organizations seeking to partner with the Secretary may send an e-mail to [email protected].

Abandoned registrations have caused significantly inflated voter rolls and less accurate registration lists. In 2018 under the previous administration, only 3 percent of the nearly 277,000 registrations who received “last chance” mailings chose to submit documentation to continue as an active voter. Earlier this year, Secretary LaRose sent a mailing to the remaining abandoned registrations and only 0.1 percent of the nearly 265,000 abandoned registrations chose to re-register as an Ohio voter at the same address where they had previously been registered. 

Reasons for registration abandonment could include: 

  • Registered individual has moved out of the county or state and failed to notify their previous local board of elections.
  • Registered individual has passed away.
  • Registered individual has chosen not to be active in the voting process.

In April, Secretary LaRose formed a bipartisan working group that is currently preparing legislation that will modernize how voter registrations are updated, transforming Ohio from an opt-in to an opt-out system and enhancing voter eligibility verification. The end result will be more accurate voter registration lists, less risk of fraud, and fewer abandoned registrations. 

Secretary LaRose is working with the bipartisan task force to have legislation to modernize Ohio’s voter registration system introduced in the coming weeks.


MODERNIZED REGISTRATION EXAMPLE: Presently, eligible voters are asked if they want to fill out a paper registration form when they visit their local BMV – oftentimes leading to improperly filled out forms, if they are filled out at all. With Voter Registration Modernization, your information will already be filled in and presented on a screen – making it easy to choose to register to vote or update your registration.


 Directive 2019-09

Timeline of Key Activities and Legislation

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Media Contact

Maggie Sheehan
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(614) 466-2729