Ohioans who haven't cast a ballot in the past several elections but want to remain eligible to vote should watch the mail.
More than 276,200 "last-chance" notices are being sent by county elections boards to Ohio voters poised to be removed from the statewide voter registration rolls unless they respond, outgoing Secretary of State Jon Husted said Wednesday.
The most notices of any county in the state are being sent to 35,265 voters last known to have lived in Franklin County (Columbus), followed by 27,318 in Cuyahoga County and 18,691 in Hamilton County (Cincinnati).
Ohio's procedure for maintaining its voter rolls is considered one of the most stringent in the nation, because it employs a "supplemental process" that has led to the removal of thousands of people who failed to vote and then didn't respond to government requests to affirm their registrations.
Under state law, the registrations of Ohio voters are revoked once they have not cast a ballot in any election over six years and failed to respond to notices mailed by their county board of elections.
The once-challenged purge of voter rolls is resuming after a directive from Husted, who said most of the notices are likely going to addresses listed for those who have died or have moved out of state and are no longer eligible to vote in Ohio.
“From online voter registration to these last-chance mailings, every innovative reform implemented by my office over the last eight years has been done to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Husted, a Republican who will be sworn-in Monday as lieutenant governor.
“We want every eligible Ohioan to be an engaged, active participant in our elections.”
In June, Husted won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed the purges to continue, although the practice was discontinued until after the November election. Civil rights groups had claimed Ohio's regimen violated a provision of the voter registration law that prohibits rescinding someone's registration "by reason of the person's failure to vote."
Critics say while maintenance of voter rolls is necessary, Ohio’s practice disproportionately affects racial minorities and poor people who tend to back Democratic candidates. Incoming Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, said during his campaign that he hoped to minimize the practice by allowing voters to update their registration more easily.
A state spokesman said those who respond properly to the last chance mailings will remain registered. And if they drop off, they can re-register at MyOhioVote.com.
Ohio's voting rules are of particular interest nationally, because it's one of the larger swing states with the potential to determine the outcome of presidential elections.
The state's maintenance procedures stemmed from a requirement in federal law that states have to make an effort to keep their voter rolls in good shape by removing people who have moved or died.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.