State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) sent the below letter to Secretary of State Jon Husted providing an analysis of the effects of rejecting ballots from ‘purged’ voters in Hamilton County and requesting records to determine the extent of the problem statewide.
“Ohioans who play by the rules are being purged from the rolls and their votes are not being counted as a result. It happened in my county, it happened in Hamilton County, and it happens in every county in our state. People who have properly registered to vote and who are eligible to vote in Ohio are being struck from the rolls arbitrarily. We need to fix this problem immediately and make sure no one is deprived of their fundamental American right to vote.” said Rep. Clyde.
Dear Secretary Husted,
I write to bring your attention to a study my office conducted on recently purged voters who attempted to exercise their right to vote in one Ohio county. I further write to request records from your office that would allow us to understand the impact of voter purging statewide.
My office conducted a review of Hamilton County voters who were purged in the summer of 2015 in order to determine the effect of that purge on the November 2015 election. We found that in the 2015 election, there were 666 Hamilton County voters whose ballots were thrown out because they were found “Not Registered.” We then compared that list of voters to the list of people who were purged in 2015, and learned that 101 people who voted in November 2015 appeared to have been purged just a few months earlier. All 101 of these voters still lived in Ohio and were eligible to vote. In fact, 77 of them still lived at the same address where they were registered when they were purged. Yet all of these voters had their ballots rejected.
My analysis only looked at Hamilton County voters who were purged in 2015. It is highly likely that many of the other supposedly “Not Registered” voters who had their ballots rejected were purged before 2015.
Based on this finding from only one election in only one county, it is safe to assume that across the state over multiple elections, tens of thousands of purged voters have had their ballots thrown out. Even worse, these voters do not even know that their votes were rejected because they are not notified when that happens. In any event, there is no doubt, based on our study, that voter purging is having a very serious effect in preventing many Ohioans from having their votes counted.
As you know, there is nothing in Ohio statute that authorizes or requires the targeting and removal of voters from the rolls for infrequent voting. Meanwhile, the main purposes of the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) are to ensure that eligible voters become registered to vote and stay on the rolls. Removing eligible voters violates that purpose. In addition, the NVRA expressly prohibits removing people from the rolls for not voting.
To fully understand the impact of purging on Ohio elections, I request public records that show which Ohio voters had their ballot rejected in the November 2015 and March 2016 elections because they were purged in 2011, 2013, or 2015. A spreadsheet showing the voter’s name, address, date the voter was purged, reason the voter was purged (i.e. infrequent voting or completed National Change of Address form), and date the voter attempted to vote again but had her ballot rejected would reveal the extent of the problem.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
A lawsuit over Secretary Husted’s purging practices is ongoing. Plaintiffs ACLU, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), Demos, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) are appealing the recent denial of relief by a federal district court.