Under this agreement between the ACLU of Ohio and Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office, those voters who have recently been removed from the rolls will be able to vote after all.
Both the ACLU of Ohio and the Ohio Secretary of State's office are calling this agreement a "big win for voters." The Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio, Freda Levenson, says it will allow voters who have been removed from the rolls because they haven't voted and responded to requests to update their registrations to cast a provisional ballot.
"As long as they still live in the same county where they were originally registered to vote and otherwise remain eligible, they can vote provisionally and have their votes counted," Levenson says.
This agreement goes through 2022. And Levenson says voters who cast a provisional ballot in any local, state or federal elections from now until then will also be restored to the voter rolls so they will be able to vote in future elections.
There have been questions lately about the Secretary of State's "supplemental process." The procedure, which was in place before current Secretary of State Frank LaRose took office, removes voters after six years of inactivity. Two years of not voting triggers a mailing from elections officials. If a voter doesn't confirm their voter registration address and also does not vote, that voter is removed. Recently, voter rights groups have said they believe there are eligible voters who have been or are in danger of being removed. And they have asked the Secretary of State to extend the September 6th deadline for removing the most recent batch of voters who are on the list to be taken off the rolls.
LaRose's office drafted this settlement. In a written statement, he says the case has loomed over the election system for far too long. And he says "with this matter now behind us, we can work to modernize our voter registration system so we can run the more secure, accurate and fair elections that all Ohioans deserve."
This settlement involves one part of the lawsuit filed in 2016. The other part, which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, asserted the supplemental process violated the National Voting Rights Amendment because it targeted voters for removal based on their failure to vote. Today's settlement deals with the part of the lawsuit that argued voters targeted for removal under this process had not been provided proper notice that their status as registered voters was in jeopardy, and therefore it was not legal to remove them.
This settlement also requires the Secretary of State to send eligible voters who are not registered a mailing to give them the deadline for registering for the November 2019 General Election. It tells local boards of elections to use motor vehicle records to make sure people who are at risk for being removed from the rolls remain eligible to vote. And the Secretary of State must provide reports on provisional ballots after elections.