31 March 2014

The Free Press obtained public records from all 88 of Ohio’s county Boards of Elections (BOE) documenting that 1,092,392 voters were removed from the voting rolls since the last presidential election.


Cuyahoga County, which includes Democratic-rich Cleveland, led the Buckeye State with 267,071 purges. Franklin County which includes the capital of Columbus, removed 93,578 voters. Franklin County went 58% for Obama in the 2008 election. Hamilton County which includes Cincinnati removed 65,536 voters, for a total of 426,185 from these three Ohio counties. Once again, a few rural Ohio counties reported no purges. These include Hancock, Huron, Sandusky, and Wood counties.


The National Voting Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 mandates that each state make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official voting rolls. Some voters were purged for legitimate reasons such as those who are deceased and voters who moved out of the county or out of state. But, the Act also allows BOEs to remove voters who have not voted in two consecutive federal election cycles. BOEs are allowed to mail to registered voters who can be purged if they don’t respond to the mailing – even if they still live at their registered address.


These discretionary mass purges concentrated primarily in Ohio’s urban centers could be the key to whether Obama wins the nation’s most controversial swing state in this year’s election. A similar study by the Free Press during the 2008 year revealed 1.25 million voters purged. After the 2004 Ohio election debacle and recount, the Free Press discovered that between the 2000-2004 election cycles 305,000 voters had been purged in the state.


In 2008, the grassroots activist group ACORN and other groups re-registered many of Ohio’s purged voters before the November election. After Obama’s victory, an obviously concentrated effort by the Right targeted ACORN and succeeded in shutting it down. Without ACORN or a similar operation in place, what will happen in Ohio in 2012?


We could follow the actions of the ACLU in 2008, that won a lawsuit in Michigan halting the mass purging of voters in Detroit. Michigan officials purged an estimated 30,000 voters per year based on their failure to respond to the voter registration material sent to their house. Justice Stephen J. Murphy of the U.S. District Court ordered Michigan to “immediately discontinue their practice
of canceling or rejecting a voter’s registration based upon the return of the voter’s original voter identification card as undeliverable.”


Perhaps the ACLU or another organization will step up in Ohio to remedy or eliminate these purges In the meantime, Ohio voters should check their registration status before heading to the polls this November.