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As Required by Law, LaRose Begins Process to Maintain Accurate Voter Lists and Strengthen Election Security

LaRose Will Once Again Partner with Community Organizations in Effort to Update Voter Registrations

COLUMBUS – Today, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued Directive 2022-23, acting on his legal responsibility to implement voter list maintenance pursuant to both federal and state law. This process was carried out previously by Secretaries Brown, Blackwell, Taft, Brunner, and Husted.

In 2018, the previous administration issued two directives, one under the National Change of Address process and one under the Supplemental process, which ordered local boards of elections to mail notices to electors who have moved or are inactive to confirm their status as a registered voter. This action started the four-year clock for the cancellation of inactive or inaccurate registrations.

Directive 2022-23 puts in place procedures for local boards of elections to contact identified inactive registrants. Registrants may become fully active by taking just one of the following actions:

  • Voting in the upcoming primary election;
  • Responding to the 2018 confirmation notices from the county board of elections;
  • Submitting an absentee ballot application;
  • Updating or confirming their address online, by mail, or in-person;
  • Updating their registration online, by mail, or in-person;
  • BMV transaction
  • Responding to the forthcoming mailing advising them of their pending cancellation

Registrations under consideration for removal have been inactive for at least the past 12 elections under the supplemental process and eight under the NCOA process. Additionally, failure to conduct a General Voter Records Maintenance process would result in Secretary LaRose violating both federal and state law.

“One of the best ways to fight fraud and protect the ability of our county boards to run successful elections is by keeping our voting rolls accurate,” said LaRose. “It’s all about election integrity. Ohioans need to trust that their elections will be secure and their boards are working at peak levels of efficiency. We’re going to make sure that happens.”

Secretary LaRose is once again taking actions designed to reach registrants who may wish to continue as registered voters, despite their inactivity.

Under Directive 2022-23, local boards of elections will be directed to do the following:

  • Send a “Registration Readiness” mailing by March 8, 2022 to the county's inactive registrants that advises them to the cancellation date of July 1, 2022 for records found via the NCOA process or August 8, 2022 for records found via the Supplemental Process, unless action is taken.

  • Compile the list of those affected inactive registrants and submit it to the Secretary of State's office by July 7, 2022 for records found via the NCOA process those registrations or July 13, 2022 for records found via the Supplemental Process. These inactive registrations will be compiled into a Registration Readiness List. This list will be provided to community organizations who partner with the Secretary of State to contact identified registrants in an effort to once again become fully active.

  • Utilize BMV records as a way to verify the registrants’ address and restore active-voter status for those sent confirmation notices under the 2018 NCOA or Supplemental Process.

Secretary LaRose first created the Registration Readiness initiative in 2019 as a new way to reach out to identified registrants by collaborating with outside community partners. The goal was two-fold: keep more voters on the rolls and give these organizations an opportunity to scrutinize the list for accuracy. That effort has been successful. In 2019, 5.9% of the identified inactive registrations utilized the opportunity to become active again. By comparison, the previous administration experienced a success rate of just 3.04%.

Past experience has also proven that crowdsourcing the data for accuracy has provided the important assurance that no registration will be inappropriately cancelled. It’s important to remember this process utilizes data from 88 separate county boards of elections who are pulling from 88 different voter registration lists, all while using different vendors to accomplish that task. By collaborating with outside organizations, we can find error if it happens and before any cancellation takes place – all while protecting the integrity of the process.

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

No lawfully registered active voter will be denied access to a ballot under the federal provisional voting law. Additionally, any person whose registration was cancelled pursuant to the Supplemental Process implemented in Directive 2022-23 may cast a provisional ballot and that provisional ballot will count so long as all the requirements set forth in Directive 2022-03 are met.

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.

WHAT IS THE RISK TO ELECTION INTEGRITY IF THIS PROCESS ISN’T CARRIED OUT?

If abandoned registrations aren’t removed from the voter rolls, it creates a serious risk to election security. The more unwieldy a registration database becomes, the more difficult it is for each county board of elections to maintain election integrity and ensure voter fraud cannot take place. On February 1, 2022, Secretary LaRose referred occurrences of potential election fraud to both the Ohio Attorney General or local county prosecutors for further investigation and potential prosecution. Among these were several individuals who voted in more than one location due to having two active registrations. Ohio’s aggressive efforts to keep accurate voter lists has kept this number exceedingly low. However, if abandoned registrations are not removed from the voter rolls, it will allow greater opportunity for additional fraud to take place.

WHAT DOES OHIO LAW SAY ABOUT REQUIRING THIS PROCESS TO TAKE PLACE?

It’s important to understand that once a confirmation notice has been sent, state law explicitly requires the cancellation of an inactive registration if it has not been active for over four years. In this case, in 2018, the previous administration issued two directives ordering local boards of elections to mail notices to electors who have been inactive for two years or changed their address to confirm their status as a registered voter. This action started the four-year clock for the cancellation of their registration, pending voter activity. To be clear, if Secretary LaRose did not issue this directive, and if inactive registrations don’t respond and their registrations aren’t cancelled, we would be explicitly breaking the law.

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3503.21

(A) The registration of a registered elector shall be canceled upon the occurrence of any of the following:

  • (7) The failure of the registered elector, after having been mailed a confirmation notice, to do either of the following:
  • (a) Respond to such a notice and vote at least once during a period of four consecutive years, which period shall include two general federal elections;
  • (b) Update the elector's registration and vote at least once during a period of four consecutive years, which period shall include two general federal elections.

You can view Directive 2022-23 by clicking this link.


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