COLUMBUS — Secretary of State Frank LaRose plans to work with community organizations to pursue inactive voters who are in danger of being purged from the registration rolls.
Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections have until July 15 to compile lists of inactive registrants to be submitted to the secretary of state, which will amass those into a so-called “Registration Reset List,” according to a directive LaRose issued Wednesday.
“We want every eligible voter who wants to participate in the process to have that opportunity and this initiative will help make that happen,” LaRose said in a written statement.
The move by the Republican from Hudson goes beyond what previous secretaries of state have done to encourage community outreach while carrying out the voter purges.
A spokeswoman for LaRose said the League of Women Voters has signed on to help in those efforts and that other organizations would be announced in the future.
“The secretary and our team has been making calls to different organizations,” said Maggie Sheehan, LaRose’s spokeswoman.
Under Ohio law, upheld last summer by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio election officials can remove voters from the rolls if they have neither voted during a six-year span nor responded to mailed notices from elections officials.
LaRose’s directive instructs county boards of election to contact and remove registered voters who haven’t updated their registration voter registration or address at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the past six years as well.
They must send “last chance” notices by July 29 to inactive registrants advising them that they will be purged Sept. 6, unless they take steps to avoid it.
Sheehan said the office would not know how many voters would receive “last chance” notices until county boards of elections report to the state in July.
In January, more than 276,200 “last chance” notices were sent by county election officials to Ohio voters who were set to be removed from registration rolls. LaRose said in February that his office was taking the “unprecedented” step of sending another mailing to about 265,000 voters who hadn’t responded to the January notice.
In the directive, LaRose noted that “state and federal laws require Ohio to perform a General Voter Records Maintenance Program.” Asked how frequently LaRose intends to conduct voter purges, Sheehan said: “I can’t speak to that. I can only speak to this directive and this is what we’re doing now.”
LaRose is working with members of the General Assembly to propose new legislation to “modernize” Ohio’s voter registration system, according to a press release.