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Representative Clyde renews demand for records in investigation into major voter registration failure

Democrat blasts BMV and SOS for mishandling thousands of voters' registrations
April 30, 2013
Democrat Newsroom

COLUMBUS- State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today sent a letter to Governor Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted seeking answers about the second major failure in six months to update tens of thousands of Ohioans' voter registrations.  BMV customers who update their address online have a right to have that update serve as voter registration. Since the BMV began sharing this data with the Secretary of State, the transmissions have come in months later than the law requires potentially causing major problems for voters and poll workers. The letter is below:

            April 30, 2013

The Honorable John Kasich

Governor

77 S. High Street, 30th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

The Honorable Jon Husted

Secretary of State

180 E. Broad Street, 16th floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Governor Kasich & Secretary Husted,

I just learned on Friday that the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and the Ohio Secretary of State’s office have again failed to transmit months of voter registration updates to the 88 Boards of Elections in a timely manner.  This mistake could once again adversely impact thousands of Ohio voters and potentially mean that votes cast in good faith by Ohio citizens will not be counted.

This is a repeat of the major mistake made during the November 2012 election cycle when nearly 100,000 Ohio voters’ registration updates made through the BMV were sent to local Boards of Election just days before a major presidential election.  I do not understand how your offices could make this same mistake twice.  We can and we must do better.

The federal “Motor Voter” law requires the BMV to send voter registration data to election officials within 5 to 10 days of acceptance. See 42 USC § 1973GG–3(e). Ohio law requires registrations to be transmitted from the BMV to election officials within 5 days.  See ORC 3503.11.  It is inexcusable that Ohio continues to be out of compliance with these laws, especially when Ohioans’ rights to vote are at stake.

The failure of the BMV and the Secretary of State’s office to transmit the voter registration updates in a timely manner adversely impacts voters in a variety of ways.  Some voters who have requested absentee ballots at their new address will have had those requests denied because their registration updates were not transmitted in time.  Even worse, other voters’ absentee ballots could be rejected because they have sent them in before these updates have gone through.  Still other voters will not know their correct polling place because they were not notified of the new location in a timely manner.  These voters may be forced to cast provisional ballots that have a strong chance of being rejected. 

At the same time, Board of Elections workers will have to work overtime to update these registrations and counties will have to pay to reprint thousands of precinct poll books because of this mistake.  Had these registrations been sent to the counties just a few weeks earlier, the reprinting of poll books could have been avoided.  As it is, voters and local governments will have to bear the cost of this huge error.

I have repeatedly sought records from the Secretary of State on the last major failure to timely update tens of thousands of Ohioans’ voter registrations and have thus far not received the requested records.  I renew my request for the data file that was transmitted from the BMV to the Secretary of State’s office in October of 2012 and I make a new request for the data file that was transmitted from the BMV to the Secretary of State’s office in recent weeks.  As with the original request, I ask for the files to be in table format such as Excel, comma-delimited text, or other similar format. 

Investigation of these records is absolutely critical to understanding this situation and to preventing it from ever happening again.  I look forward to your prompt response. 

Respectfully,

 Kathleen Clyde

State Representative