Ohio is the gold standard of election administration, and in 2020, more Ohioans voted in the presidential election than in any election in state history. Such access to the ballot is only possible thanks to the security protocols in place that ensure the integrity of the election. Key to election integrity is the accuracy of the voter rolls managed by the 88 county boards of elections. Boosting the accuracy of voter rolls would be significantly enhanced if the Ohio General Assembly adopted Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s proposal to modernize and automate the system as seen in HB 294. In lieu of this proposal being actualized, Ohio must still take the necessary steps prescribed under current law to remove abandoned registrations and strengthen the security of the system.
Today, in accordance with both federal and state law, Secretary LaRose is directing Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to begin a four-year process to identify any registrations that have been inactive for at least two years and those registrations that appear on the National Change of Address database (NCOA). Each of these identified registrations must be sent a confirmation notice informing them that voter activity must take place at some point over the next four years in order to remain active.
Voter-initiated activity includes any one of the following:
- Voting in any election over the next four years;
- Submitting an absentee ballot application;
- Registering to vote, online or in-person;
- Updating or confirming an address with a board of elections (including returning the confirmation notice)
- Updating or confirming an address with the BMV, or
- Signing a candidate or issue petition that is verified by a board of elections.
If a registration in confirmation status doesn’t engage in any such voter activity, the registration will be at risk of cancellation beginning in 2026. Pursuant to the supplemental process, it is also important to note that any registration that engaged in any of the voter-initiated activity over the past two years, including voting in the 2020 election, will not receive a confirmation notice.
“Ohio has been setting records for voter turnout because Ohioans know that our elections are both convenient and secure. That success requires an elections system with integrity,” said LaRose. “Abandoned registrations clog that system up, making it more difficult for election officials to do their jobs and putting the security of our elections at risk. We’ve made some big moves to improve the process to keep our voter rolls accurate, encourage participation and fixing errors before they cause issues. While we’ve made great strides in carrying out the process required under Ohio law, we can do so much better if we modernize our voter list-maintenance and registration procedures. There is legislation already introduced in the General Assembly that gets that done and I’m hopeful we can make this vital modernization a reality.”
Learn what the United States Election Assistance Commission says about federal law and the importance of voter list maintenance by clicking here.
MODERNIZING VOTER REGISTRATION WILL CREATE MORE ACCURATE & SECURE VOTER ROLLS
Secretary LaRose has called on Ohio to embrace a more modernized voter registration system that will make our voter rolls both more accurate and secure. Instead of relying on voters to remember to update their information at their local board of elections or on the Secretary of State website, it would allow voter registration data to be more easily and efficiently updated. By requiring state government to integrate the technology and resources at its disposal, voters will be able to update their registration information when they interact with state government entities such as the BMV. This improvement will significantly improve the accuracy of Ohio’s voter rolls. This initiative is a priority of Secretary LaRose in the current General Assembly and is currently a key aspect HB 294.