Editorial: Replace voter ‘purge’ with common-sense reforms before 2020


Akron Beacon Journal



It’s time to end the ridiculous political theater surrounding Ohio’s controversial voter “purge” process that has wiped out 462,000 voter registrations across our state just this year.

As we approach the 2020 presidential election, surely we all can agree that our republic is best served when all citizens take time to elect our leaders and make decisions on important issues such as school levies. It’s also true that we want to ensure everyone votes just once in their proper place based on an accurate registration.

Unfortunately managing elections with common sense and within compliance of all state and federal laws continues to become more and more complex, largely due to meddling politicians who often are trying to tilt the playing field to their perceived advantage.

One such law is Ohio’s requirement that voters who miss two consecutive federal elections must be removed from registration lists if they don’t vote within four years or fail to respond to notices from their board of elections. In reality, it’s not quite that simple, but we won’t belabor the details that really should become irrelevant.

Nor will we debate the political spins both conservatives and liberals constantly scream about unfounded fears of voter fraud and disenfranchisement of people who already don’t vote.

The simple reality is we live in the year 2019, a time when the state of Ohio maintains multiple databases with current information on all of us. The state already likely knows if we’ve moved within the last 12 months.

Ohio’s Secretary of State, Frank LaRose of Hudson, understands the current law forcing him to remove voters is a gigantic government failure. Not only did he keep more than 40,000 registrations from being cut by openly sharing a list of planned cancellations, he’s also calling for sensible reforms.

LaRose wants lawmakers to approve a new process in which citizens could more easily update their registrations when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a place just about everyone visits within six years. Ohio already gets notified of address changes submitted to the U.S. Postal Service. Death certificates also are tracked.

Using the BMV and possibly other state databases such as annual tax filings would go a long way to ensuring voter registration records are more accurate, which then removes any need to cancel registrations just because people don’t vote.

State Sens. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, and Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, introduced the Voter Verification and Registration bill in August in partnership with LaRose.

Now it’s time for lawmakers to debate, improve and approve this legislation before the 2020 election.

In the meantime, let’s all remember democracy can’t be a spectator sport. If you’re not sure you’re registered for the upcoming Nov. 5 election, check your registration online.

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Akron Beacon Journal

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