Ohio is a national leader – in voter purging. Illegal voter purging efforts, led by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, have affected more than 2 million Ohioans. It’s possible that you’ve been thrown off the voter rolls, and you don’t even know it.
However, voters across Ohio were just handed a huge victory. On Wednesday, a federal District Court ordered that Husted remedy his illegal voter purge by allowing the purged voters to vote and counting their ballots. Husted has been violating federal law by purging registered and eligible voters for not voting in previous elections. Have you skipped an election – even one? This could be you.
This decision was a long time coming. Since 2011, when Husted took office, Ohio has purged more voters from its rolls than any other state.
Thankfully, this court decision has put an end – for now – to Husted’s illegal purging. Voters illegally purged by Husted over the past five years will have their votes counted during this important election. In rejecting Husted’s excuses, the District Court said if he doesn’t allow purged voters the ballot, he’ll be in violation of federal law and will be guilty of further voter disenfranchisement.
Enough is enough.
I came into the legislature in 2011 fighting against attempts to aggressively disenfranchise Ohio’s registered voters. Since that time I helped lead the opposition to legislative efforts that would increase the frequency of voter purging in Ohio to once every year, rather than once every two years. I hosted a summit here in Ohio where national experts gathered with state voting rights leaders and explained how purging voters violates federal law.
I introduced legislation, the Stop The Purge Act, that would specifically prohibit purging for infrequent voting or for moving within the state. I have offered additional legislation, HB 246, that would require that no voters be excluded from statewide absentee application mailings because of being marked “inactive” in a flawed purge process.
And since 2011, I consistently opposed Husted’s numerous purging directives, pointing out, as the federal court has now held, how these directives violated federal law.
Purging voters merely because they chose not to vote in previous elections is not only illegal, it is bad policy. Our jobs as legislators and election officials should be to encourage voters to participate in the electoral process – not to penalize them when they don’t. And that is why I have fought so hard for so many years against Husted’s aggressive efforts to purge millions of Ohioans.
This election season, votes of registered and eligible voters who were illegally purged will be counted. That’s a huge victory for Ohio voters and for democracy.