LaRose updates the voter registration database


COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has fulfilled his legal responsibility to maintain the accuracy of Ohio’s voter registration database as required under both federal and state law. This process was carried out previously by Secretaries Brown, Blackwell, Taft, Brunner, and Husted, and was done in partnership with Ohio’s county boards of elections under Directives 2022-23 and 2022-35 to ensure that only eligible Ohioans can cast their vote in Ohio elections.

In 2018, the previous administration issued two directives, one under the National Change of Address (NCOA) 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, meaning a voter would have six years of inactivity before they would be removed from the registration database.

Directives 2022-23 and 2022-35 put in place procedures for local boards of elections to contact identified inactive registrants. Registrants could have become fully active by taking just one of the following actions:

• Voting in a primary or general election;

• Responding to the 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;

• Updating or confirming their address with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles;

• Responding to the mailing advising them of their pending cancellation; or

• Signing a circulated petition for a candidate or ballot issue.

Under the supplemental process for voter list maintenance, county boards of elections report to the Secretary all voter registrations they deem to be abandoned, meaning the registrant passed away, was incarcerated, moved, or did not engage in any form of election participation over the past six years. Additional abandoned registrations were identified via the National Change of Address process, where the U.S. Postal Service notifies counties of individuals who are confirmed to have moved from the address where they were registered. Generally speaking, 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.

In March 2022, the boards identified 139,770 registrations eligible for cancellation. In the subsequent months and upon conclusion of the November 2022 election, the boards reported 124,158 cancellations, as 15,612 voters were identified and removed from the original list due to voter activity or other action. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office examined and verified the boards’ final cancellation list.

Erie County will report its voter list update following its Feb. 28, 2023, special primary election, and will not cancel any records for registrations who engage in voter activity in that election.

“Cleaning up abandoned registrations from our voting rolls isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the law,” said LaRose. “It’s a commonsense measure that makes it easier to prevent fraud and reduces the burden and costs at our county boards of elections.”

Any person whose voter registration has been cancelled can immediately reinstate their ability to vote by reregistering on the Secretary’s registration website here or by visiting their county board of elections.

Under Directive 2022-35 local boards of elections were directed to do the following:

• Send a “Registration Readiness” mailing by March 8, 2022, to the county’s inactive registrants to advise 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. Directive 2022-35 amended the cancellation date so it would occur after the November general election.

• Compile the list of those affected inactive registrants and submit it to the Secretary of State’s office by Dec. 30, 2022, for records found via the NCOA process or found via the supplemental process. These inactive registrations were compiled into a Registration Readiness List. This list was available 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.

• 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.

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