Voting rights groups in Ohio are being lauded for their oversight efforts which uncovered massive errors in the state's recent bid to remove hundreds of thousands of voters from its rolls. The inspection, which was carried out primarily by nonprofit volunteers, found that more than 40,000 voters were mistakenly included on the state's to-be-deleted list.
"It definitely showed that Ohio's registration system needs a major upgrade," Jen Miller, the director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, told Cheddar on Monday. "We can't be using a policy as severe as a purge when we can't even be sure that our purge lists are correct."
In an unusual move, this past August Ohio's Secretary of State Frank LaRose publically released a list of 235,000 voters that were set to be deleted from the state's registry. By reviewing the long spreadsheet, the League of Women Voters and several other groups uncovered gross inaccuracies, including the inclusion of Miller's name.
Yet Secretary LaRose, a Republican, has praised the process, saying his office undertook the most transparent review of Ohio's voting rolls to date. "Because of our collaboration with outside organizations, the proper safeguards are in place to ensure any eligible voter will have the opportunity to have their voice heard," LaRose said in a statement after revising the list.
The list maintenance process, as it's officially called, is legally mandated in Ohio and seeks to clear the state's system of deceased residents, inactive voters, or people who have moved out of state. Voter purging, however, has become a major issue nationwide as Republican-led initiatives in several states have sought to remove voters through controversial registration requirements, which critics say primarily target minority or Democratic voters.
Other oversight groups that participated in the review include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, All Voting is Local, and the Fair Elections Center.