More than 180,000 names removed from Ohio voter rolls; LaRose blasts criticism
By Darrel Rowland, Akron Beacon Journal
4 hrs ago
A state purge removed 182,858 names from Ohio's voter registration rolls, a number that will grow because data from five counties — including metropolitan Cuyahoga, Summit and Lucas — were not included.
Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal/Ohio.com file photo/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal/Ohio.com file photo]
Secretary of State Frank LaRose acknowledged it's time to change the process that has brought a host of criticism — not to mention lawsuits — from critics.
"We've brought unprecedented transparency to this process; and our partnership with community groups, churches, labor unions, and other interested parties has confirmed what we've always believed: a process that for decades has relied on eighty-eight county boards of elections, sitting down at eighty-eight different keyboards, querying eighty-eight different databases is imperfect." LaRose said in a news release issued at 5 p.m. Friday.
"It's time to fix that imperfect system. That's why we've already endorsed new legislation that will modernize our registration system and bring the improvements necessary to develop the accurate and secure voter rolls Ohioans deserve."
LaRose's news release fired back at his critics.
"Despite Secretary LaRose's unprecedented levels of transparency and collaboration, certain partisans have attempted to utilize the opportunity for their own political gain. But much worse, they have used fear tactics to scare voters."
Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper returned the fire: "Frank LaRose himself has acknowledged thousands of errors with his voter purge, and instead of trying to get to the bottom of what happened, he's attacking the groups and individuals who helped raise awareness of the errors. That level of arrogance in a public official is what's really scary."
Information from Cuyahoga, Summit, and Lucas counties were not included because some municipalities in those counties held local elections on Sept. 10. Updated information from those areas is expected next week.
The other two counties that have not provided purge data are Portage and Tuscarawas. And Henry County did not purge any voters because it does not have complete records of voting history.
A searchable list of purged voters can be found at OhioSoS.gov/FreshStart
As he did before the latest purge, LaRose is inviting community and political groups to attempt to contact anyone on the list who may still be an eligible Ohio voter. They will be eligible to vote in the November general election if they are properly registered by Oct. 7.
Adam Cairns/Dispatch file photo/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose makes remarks during the Ohio Governor's Wreath Laying Ceremony in Columbus in May earlier this year. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch file photo]
The vast majority of names on the list are believed to belong to voters who are no longer eligible to vote in Ohio. However, the most controversial portion consists of those who are losing their eligibility simply because they have not voted in six years, a process upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Under court settlement, if any of those inactive voters show up at the polls, they will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot if they still reside in the same county in which their registration was cancelled. That provisional ballot will be counted if the voter is otherwise eligible.
Problems emerged with the purge process after LaRose required county boards of elections to provide the list of registrations they intended to cancel. He merged those registrations into a single list of more than 235,000 people whom individuals and groups could contact and encourage to update their registrations.
But once that list was assembled, The Dispatch, voting rights groups and others discovered problems, including a vendor error that resulted in about 1,600 registrations being improperly on the purge list.
LaRose insisted that such discoveries were not evidence of problems, but of the value of increased transparency in the legally mandated purge process, which previously had been carried out at the county level with little public scrutiny.
Such a view is reflected in the subtitle of Friday's press release: Unprecedented Transparency and Safeguards Lead to Most Comprehensive Review of Voter List Maintenance Effort in State History.