Congresswoman Beatty Blasts Upcoming Ohio Voter Purge
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In advance of the announced September 6th purge of 235,000 registered voters by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) issued the following statement reaffirming her commitment to protecting the sacred right to vote for all Americans:
“After tomorrow’s purge, nearly 500,000 Ohioans this year alone may soon discover that their names have been stripped from the rolls all because they did not vote recently and did not return a postcard. However, far worse is the fact that many will be kicked off by mistake. As I have said time and time again: the right to vote is not a ‘use-it or lose-it’ proposition. That is why it is time for the State of Ohio—especially in light of verified reports of statewide errors—to guarantee that every eligible voter can have their voice heard. Our vote is our voice.”
Ohio’s latest purge comes on the heels of media reports from The Columbus Dispatch and the Springfield News-Sun highlighting instances where county boards mistakenly flagged almost 4,000 people. Under Ohio state law, the Secretary of State is authorized to implement a “supplementary process” to remove voters, in addition to identifying and purging voters who died, moved to other states, or otherwise lost voting eligibility. The “supplementary process” involves the Secretary of State producing a list of voters who go two years without voting activities (e.g. voting and/or updating their personal contact information) and sending those voters a notice. If that notice is not returned or the voter does not vote in the subsequent four years, then that voter is automatically struck from the rolls.
Since 2011, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office has removed two million people from the rolls, including more than 840,000 people under the “supplementary process”—making Ohio one of the most aggressive states in the nation at purging voters based on data from the Election Administration and Voting Survey 2016 Comprehensive Survey. Independent analysis has found this policy to be especially harmful to at-risk Ohioans, people of color, veterans, and students—as these populations are less likely to have a longstanding, permanent address.
In Congress, Beatty introduced the Save Voters Act, H.R. 3201, a piece of legislation that would bar states like Ohio from purging potential voters based on their failure to vote or respond to a written notice, unless the notice is returned as undeliverable. The bill also requires states to inform a voter when they are removed from the rolls and include the reason for removal and information on how to contest removal or be reinstated. Further, states must also disseminate a public notice within 48 hours of conducting any general program to remove names from the official list of eligible voters, informing the public that list maintenance is taking place, and that registrants should check their voter status. The Save Voters Act is awaiting further consideration in the House Administration Committee.
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