Chad McCullough, 44, was born in Ohio and has lived in Butler County for about nine or 10 years, he says. Last November, McCullough and his wife made their way to the local polling station in southwest Ohio to cast their ballots. But as he attempted to exercise his right to participate in the democratic process, a poll worker told him that he couldn’t find his name on the voter registration list — McCullough was no longer registered. “I had no idea that my voter registration could be cancelled, even if I did not move,” McCullough said. McCullough is among tens of thousands of voters in Ohio, many from low-income neighborhoods and who typically vote for Democratic candidates, who have been deemed ineligible to vote by Ohio election officials last year simply because they haven’t voted enough — a move that disenfranchises voters and is illegal, voting rights advocates say. McCullough’s comments are now part of a federal lawsuit against Ohio’s Secretary of State — a legal action that has spurred heavy debate among voting rights activists and elected officials during the 2016 election cycle.
Public policy organization Demos and the ACLU of Ohio, which filed the lawsuit against Ohio’s top election official Jon Husted, is asking the court to stop the purging process from going forward, and for other purged voters to be re-instated ahead of the November 2016 election. The suit alleges that because so much attention is on the presidential race this year, a much larger number of infrequent Ohio voters will be “denied the opportunity to cast a vote that counts.”
“There can be no genuine dispute that the mere failure to vote for two years is not just an unreasonable and faulty indicator that someone has changed address, it is a forbidden one,” the lawsuit alleges.