Frequently Asked Questions
WHY WON’T ANY REGISTRATION THAT IS PART OF THIS PROCESS BE CANCELLED BEFORE THE NOVEMBER ELECTION?
Consistent with the law, Secretary LaRose is prohibiting the boards of elections from removing any registration prior to the November 3, 2020 General Election.
HOW IS REGISTRATION READINESS DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS YEARS?
First, registrants will have more time than ever before to update their registration, confirm their registration, vote, or take any other action that will shift their registration status to active. Second, prior to issuing Directive 2020-14, Secretary LaRose’s office worked with boards and their vendors to vet a preliminary list of registrations identified as potential candidates for placement on the Registration Readiness list. In doing so, 1,342 registrations have already been placed on a “do not cancel list” because of inconsistencies found in the registrations due to human error or computer system error.
HOW MANY REGISTRATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE ON THE LIST?
The preliminary list of registrations provided by the counties included approximately 119,000 registrations. However, it is expected that the size of this list when registrations are officially submitted by counties will be fewer due to voter activity or other actions that shift a registration off the rolls such as moving out of state or death.
WILL THE REGISTRATION READINESS LIST BE SHARED WITH OUTSIDE ORGANIZATIONS?
Continuing his commitment to unprecedented transparency, Secretary LaRose will collect the registrations provided by the counties and upload them onto our website for anyone to review or download. Additionally, we look to continue our collaboration with outside organizations in an effort to 1) reach out to registrants and update their registration, and 2) utilize organizational expertise to collectively vet the list for accuracy.
ARE ERRORS EXPECTED TO BE FOUND?
There are 7.8 million voter registrations in Ohio that are overseen by 88 different county boards of elections which utilize five different private vendors, each with different computer systems, to help manage their systems. Errors are going to happen. That’s exactly why Secretary LaRose has adopted a policy of transparency to ensure that this lawfully required duty is completed as accurately as possible.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT DATES TO KNOW?
August 21, 2020 – County Boards of Elections must upload a spreadsheet containing the county number, county name, state voter ID, reason for active-confirmation status, registration date, last voted date, first name, last name, address, and voter status of each registration that meets the required criteria. This data will be reviewed and uploaded to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website as soon as possible following this deadline.
September 4, 2020 – County Boards of Elections must mail their Registration Readiness Notice to identified registrants by this date. This notice will inform the registrant that they may be cancelled after the November General Election unless they take action.
November 3, 2020 – If any previously identified registrant votes in the 2020 General Election, that registrant will not be cancelled. These registrants could also avoid cancellation by updating or confirming their address, updating their registration, or responding to the Registration Readiness Notice.
December 7, 2020 – In order to provide enough time to thoroughly review voting records after the completion of the General Election and pursuant to election law, no cancellations will take place before December 7, 2020.
ISN’T THERE A BETTER WAY TO MANAGE VOTER REGISTRATION IN OHIO?
Ohio is one of just six states which continue to operate a bottom-up voter registration system, where all voter registration data is collected and processed at the local level. Secretary LaRose has called for Ohio to consider a top-down voter registration system to streamline the process and allow for less error to occur.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE WHO IS CANCELLED AFTER THIS YEAR’S ELECTION WANTS TO VOTE NEXT YEAR?
Any qualified Ohioan may register to vote.
WHAT DOES THE LAW STATE ABOUT THE VOTER LIST MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENT?
The voter list maintenance process is required by both state and federal law. As part of the supplemental process, registrants who have been inactive for six years, or at least 12 elections, and failed to respond to a confirmation notice, must be removed from the voter rolls. Additionally, the NCOA process is also required by state and federal law. The upcoming voter list maintenance process is required because the previous administration issued confirmation notices for both in July and August 2016.
The law states the following:
(A) The registration of a registered elector shall be canceled upon the occurrence of any of the following:
(6) The change of residence of the registered elector to a location outside the county of registration in accordance with division (B) of this section;
(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.
(B) (1) The secretary of state shall prescribe procedures to identify and cancel the registration in a prior county of residence of any registrant who changes the registrant’s voting residence to a location outside the registrant’s current county of registration. Any procedures prescribed in this division shall be uniform and nondiscriminatory, and shall comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The secretary of state may prescribe procedures under this division that include the use of the national change of address service provided by the United States postal system through its licensees. Any program so prescribed shall be completed not later than ninety days prior to the date of any primary or general election for federal office.
ARE THERE ANY SAFEGUARDS FOR ABANDONED REGISTRATIONS?
Per a settlement with the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), an exception will continue that allows any person whose registration was previously cancelled pursuant to the Supplemental Process and who continues to reside in the same county in which their registration was cancelled to cast a provisional ballot. If that provisional ballot complies with all the requirements to cast and count a provisional ballot, then any such vote will be counted and result in the person’s registration being restored. More information can be found by clicking here.