County boards of elections recently mailed notices to 236,000 Ohioans who are registered but have not voted during the past six years, or roughly the span of 12 elections. The notice asks them to respond and thus affirm their registered status. If the board doesn’t hear back, officials will remove the recipient from the voter rolls. This is the controversial purging, or “supplemental process,” the state uses, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld, to maintain and update the list of registered voters. Federal law requires accurate voter rolls as part of preserving the integrity of elections.

Yet there remains a problem with the process. Federal law also states that “no registrant may be removed solely by reason of a failure to vote.” Yet under the current regimen, an Ohioan who is registered may be removed from the rolls for little more than choosing to stay away from the polls. No matter the ruling of the high court, that still doesn’t seem right, the status of inactive voters hinging on whether they return a mailed notice.

It is past time for state lawmakers to set up an automatic system for confirmation.

Frank LaRose, the secretary of state, wants the Statehouse to act. The Hudson Republican favors something with bipartisan support: When registered voters come into contact with state government, for instance, by paying taxes or renewing a driver’s license, their voter registrations would be updated. This would end the cumbersome mailings, and protect against voters arriving at the polls thinking they are registered only to learn then they are not.

In other words, this should be the last time for the current notices.

To his credit, LaRose, in his first year as the state elections chief, has made improvements to the purging process. His office has put together a “Registration Reset List,” a searchable database of all the inactive voters who have been sent notices. He has shared the information with 20 organizations across the state, including the NAACP and the League of Women Voters. The organizations are following up. The vast majority of those on the list are either deceased or have moved away. Yet, the likelihood is many will remain on the voter rolls because they have been contacted and prompted to respond by one of the organizations.

Earlier in the year, LaRose conducted what he called the “Fresh Start” campaign, sending postcards and registration forms to the 265,000 voters with registrations that were canceled under Jon Husted, the previous secretary of state and now lieutenant governor. A tiny fraction re-registered, around 0.1 percent, leading critics to question the expense. The important thing is LaRose reinforced the importance of every vote, not to mention the need for public confidence in the elections system.

Leap ahead one year, and Ohio will be center stage in a presidential election, likely to be even more fiercely contested. The state has a better election system compared to many states with its month of early voting, no-excuse absentee ballots and early voting centers open on weekends. The next logical step is automatic voter registration, starting with technology easing updates, delivering the accuracy and reassurance that mailed notices cannot achieve.

That won’t likely prevent election-driven lawsuits or the Russians from attacking again in an effort to disrupt and influence the presidential race. The automation would be a significant advance. It is better than booting legally registered voters from the rolls because they chose not to vote and then failed to respond to a mailing from the elections board. Frank LaRose deserves the backing of Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative leaders in seeing that Ohio enters 2020 with this upgrade in place.