Ohio voters who were improperly removed from the rolls after not casting a ballot for several years will be allowed to vote in the November general election. A federal appellate court ruled last month that Ohio’s practice of occasionally canceling voter registrations after six years of inactivity was illegal. A U.S. District Court decision issued Wednesday night mandates that voters purged since Jan. 1, 2011 be allowed to cast provisional ballots. Ballots will count if the voter lives in the same county as they were registered in. Secretary of State Jon Husted had asked the court to allow provisional voting for voters pulled from the rolls in 2015. Voter rights advocates who had filed the lawsuit asked for ballots to be counted for voters removed in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Husted said Wednesday that his office will fully comply with the judge’s order and continue focusing on administering a smooth election. “Our main concern was to protect the integrity of the election by not having to reinstate deceased voters, those who moved out of state, or are otherwise ineligible,” Husted said in a statement.
A ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state’s process for clearing ineligible voters from the voting roles because it punished inactive voters for not voting. The ACLU of Ohio, which filed the suit on behalf of the Philip A. Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, was pleased with the court’s resolution.
“Our biggest concern was to make sure that voters who were illegally purged from the voter rolls will be able to cast their ballots in November and we believe this ruling largely resolves that,” Mike Brickner, senior policy director for the ACLU of Ohio. “People who were purged are trying to vote right now and trying to get an absentee ballot.”
At least 846,391 Ohio voter registrations were canceled between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. But it’s possible the number is much greater because Ohio’s 88 counties did not uniformly remove voters or report that action.