The four-year process for purging inactive voters targets those who have not voted for two years, or whose addresses may have changed, and whose voter registration must be updated to reflect the move, according to Wednesday’s directive by LaRose, a Republican.
Inactive voters can keep themselves on the rolls by voting in any election in the next four years, submitting an absentee ballot application, registering to vote, or taking other election-related steps, he said in a Sept. 1 news release.
But, according to the release, “if a registration in confirmation status doesn’t engage in any such voter activity, the registration will be at risk of cancellation beginning in 2026.” And, the secretary of state’s office added, “it is also important to note that any registration that engaged in any of the voter-initiated activity over the past two years … will not receive a confirmation notice.”
The move is necessary because inactive or abandoned voter registrations clog up the election systems in Ohio, make it more difficult for workers to perform their jobs, and put Ohio’s election integrity at risk, LaRose said in the news release.
“We’ve made some big moves to improve the process to keep our voter rolls accurate, encourage participation, and fixing errors before they cause issues,” La Rose added. “While we’ve made great strides in carrying out the process required under Ohio law, we can do so much better if we modernize our voter list-maintenance and registration procedures. There is legislation already introduced in the General Assembly that gets that done and I’m hopeful we can make this vital modernization a reality.”
Also in the news release, LaRose called for the passage of the GOP-backed voting bill introduced in the state Legislature during the spring to modernize the state’s election systems. The bill prohibits the placement of ballot drop boxes anywhere but at local election offices, eliminates a day of early voting, shortens the window for requesting mail-in ballots, and tightens voter identification requirements.
The bill also would add provisions such as an online absentee ballot request system long sought by voting rights advocates as well as automated voter registration through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Democrats have largely criticized the Republican voting measure, known as House Bill 294, and claim it would suppress the votes of some groups.
The Ohio General Assembly will return to session next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.