Ohio Democrats sue to stop purge of voter rolls

Ohio Democrats sue to stop purge of voter rolls
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The Ohio Democratic Party reportedly filed a lawsuit last week over Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s (R) planned removal of hundreds of thousands of voters who have not voted for the past several elections from the rolls.

In the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus, state Democrats asked for a restraining order blocking the purge, set to take effect on Friday, and requiring LaRose to instead manually review the voting history of each individual in question, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

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The plaintiffs also called for an independent probe into how the state updates voter rolls to remove infrequent voters.

A recent investigation by the Dispatch found a vendor who works with county boards of election erroneously flagged more than 1,600 people for removal. A total of 1,641 voters who have voted since the 2015 primaries, which should have kept them from being flagged as infrequent voters, were sent notices over the summer warning that their registrations could be canceled.

LaRose has, according to the suit, “increased the risk that eligible voters have been, and will be, unlawfully removed from the Ohio voter file in a manner that prevents them from casting a regular ballot, by knowingly and intentionally relying on an inaccurate purge list and then exacerbating the risk by scheduling the purge to take place immediately prior to” September primaries.

LaRose spokeswoman Maggie Sheehan defended the process in a statement to the Dispatch.

“We’re proud of providing unprecedented levels of transparency into this process, but we won’t ignore the law. When we partnered with the NAACP, the Ohio Republican Party, the Urban League, church organizations, and labor unions to get voters activated, the Ohio Democratic Party stood on the sidelines. Of course a lawsuit is the next step in their tired playbook,” she said.

The Supreme Court ruled Ohio’s process for purging infrequent voters is constitutional in 2018.