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Ohio launches effort to clean up voter rolls ahead of November’s presidential election

FILE - Ohio Secretary of State and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Frank LaRose speaks to supporters during a campaign event in Hamilton, Ohio, Monday, March 18, 2024. President Joe Biden's re-election campaign is wrangling with the Republican-dominated states of Ohio and Alabama to assure he's listed on their November ballots, amid hints that a routine procedural negotiation is becoming politically charged. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose directed county election directors on Thursday to begin a “routine but enhanced” hunt through the voter rolls ahead of November’s election, in an effort he says is legally mandated to remove inactive registrations.

“Every state is required to have an ongoing process to verify the accuracy of its voter rolls, but Ohio has the most advanced and effective protocols in the nation,” LaRose said in announcing the directive. “This work is not only critical to keeping our elections honest, but it’s also essential to making sure our election officials can properly plan for the right number of ballots, voting machines, polling places and poll workers.”

The list maintenance effort will target four specific areas:

1. Changes of address. These are registrations that appear to be inactive because of a change of address registered with the U.S. Postal Service that the voter has failed to confirm to their local elections board. The listings are flagged for removal after four consecutive years of voter inactivity.

2. Past due removals. These are records previously flagged for removal after the required four-year waiting period, and identified through a data integrity investigation conducted by LaRose’s Office of Data Analytics and Archive as remaining in the system.

3. Returned acknowledgements. These are new registrations that counties acknowledged with a informational postcard that was returned as undeliverable. By law, these registrations are placed in “confirmation” status, which sets them up to be purged barring eligible voter activity.

4. BMV mismatches. These are registrations that don’t match certain details a person provided to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, such as their name, birth date, Social Security number or driver’s license number. This process also can flag registrations for voters who have died.

All registrations deemed inactive and so legally qualified for removal will be listed for public review on a Registration Readiness roster posted for public review to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. This provides one final opportunity for individual voters and voting rights groups to keep a registration from being deleted.

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