Ohio has been the No. 1 state in the country for purging eligible voters from its rolls and it’s time for this attack to be stopped, 2018 Democratic Secretary of State candidate Kathleen Clyde said in a recent interview.
On Jan. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violated the National Voter Registration Act by purging eligible voters from the rolls for being inactive in recent elections.
“We have purged 1.5 million Ohioans from the rolls the last seven years simply for not voting in a few elections,” Clyde said. “They are still eligble to vote. We’re not talking about deceased voters or voters who moved out of state, these are people here in Ohio who are still eligible and are having their rights taken away.”
From the Associated Press:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the New York-based public advocacy group Demos say Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s voter roll protocols unfairly disenfranchise eligible voters.
President Donald Trump’s administration reversed the government’s position in August.
Former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department maintained that Ohio’s method for purging inactive voters violated the National Voter Registration Act. The government now says it is not in violation.
Clyde said that she has been fighting the voter purges for a long time, having introduced legislation as a state representative to stop it. She has called on Husted to end the policy, and she has helped plaintiffs who filed the complaint against it.
Clyde noted that they won in the 6th U.S. District court but Husted has now appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She said it’s anticipated that the court will make a decision this spring.
“I know that when I’m Secretary of State I will not continue this practice of purging infrequent voters,” she said.
How this works is that people show up to vote in Ohio elections and they are not in the poll books, Clyde explained. They are then given a provisional ballot and election officials have a 10-day period after the election to determine their eligibility, she said.
“If any of these voters were wrongfully purged because of infrequent voting, those provisional ballots get tossed,” she said. “We have thousands of those in every election year in Ohio. That is just wrong. Often people don’t know that their vote wasn’t ultimately counted. This is a really deceptive process on Ohio voters. It disenfranchises them. We can do better as a state.”
Apart from stopping this purging, Clyde shared her ideas for getting more people voting in Ohio. She has introduced a bill that would create automatic voter registration in Ohio. It would keep voter rolls up to date, she said, and get over 1 million Ohioans registered as soon as it goes into effect.
“Instead of being an opt-in system where you have to go do something to get yourself registered, it would be an opt-out system, so you’d have to do something to not be registered,” she said. “Ten states have adopted it. They are both red and blue states – this shouldn’t be a partisan issue, updating how we register voters.”
States that have it have 5 percent to 10 percent more people turning out to vote than Ohio, she said
“It is a serious reform that we need to bring to our state that I think will really improve voter access and also keep our rolls up-to-date. It’s commonsense.” Clyde said.