COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Secretary of State purged more than 26,000 voters from voter rolls in September due to inactivity – over a sixth of whom came from Franklin County.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose hasn’t announced the canceled voter registrations yet, but his office’s website has an updated database of purged voters. To see if your voter registration has been canceled, search the database here.
Voters purged from the rolls can re-register to vote on the Secretary of State website. Those who were removed in September who did not register before Oct. 10 cannot vote in the Nov. 7 election.
As of Sept. 29, 26,666 voters were purged in the most recent cycle, according to the database. Nearly 4,700 of those voters were from Franklin County, representing about 17.5% of all canceled voter registrations.
Why were voter registrations canceled?
In March 2019, 34,692 voters who appeared in the National Change of Address database as having potentially moved were mailed notices that they had four years to take action before they would be removed from the rolls. In February of this year, LaRose directed county election boards to send additional notices to inactive voters with the warning that their registration could be canceled after the May primary.
Per LaRose’s 2019 directive and under the NCOA process, voter registrations were to be canceled by late July. In June, LaRose instructed elections boards not to purge voters before the August special election but to expel voters from the rolls by Sept. 27.
Federal law prohibits the purging of voters 30 days before elections, which is why the July cancellations were rescheduled, Secretary of State Communications Director Melanie Amato said in an email.
For registration to be considered “active,” voters must have voted, confirmed or updated their registration, or engaged in “voter activity” in the past four years.
Voter activity includes:
- Voting in a primary or general election
- Submitted absentee ballot application
- Updating or confirming address with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles
- Signed a circulated petition for a candidate or ballot issue
In an Oct. 20 letter to LaRose, Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) criticized the voter purge, especially as early voting had already begun for the November election with two statewide issues on the ballot.
“You even stopped the purge before the August 2023 election, but now that our reproductive rights, our very lives, are on the November ballot, you have rushed to purge voters,” Sweeney wrote. “I urge you to do the right thing, be transparent, and undo any damage that may have been done.”
In a response Tuesday, the Secretary of State's chief legal counsel called Sweeney's claims "ridiculous" and "inaccurate." He also denied that the canceled registrations constituted a "voter purge" as voters who moved addresses are "no longer legally defined as a voter at that location."
Amato said in an email that the inactive voter list was published before the May election and said all directives are publicly available on the Secretary of State website.
County boards of elections were ordered to cancel inactive voters' registration by Jan. 9 under the NCOA process and a supplemental process that began in 2018. In late February, LaRose announced in a news release that 124,158 voters were purged.