News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.

Starting Ohio purge, GOP elections chief helps search for those still eager to vote

Ohio is moving ahead with its second purge of the voter rolls this year, though not before the state's new Republican top elections official helps in a search for people who haven't voted in a while.

Still, Democrats say the purge will wrongly disenfranchise too many – mainly poor people, minorities and students.

Last year the Supreme Court upheld an Ohio law requiring the removal from voter lists of those who have not cast ballots in at least six years or responded to "last chance" notices sent by mail. About 3 percent of the state's 8 million registered voters were dropped in January, and on Monday the elections boards of all 88 counties mailed new last-chance notices to another 3 percent, or almost 236,000 people, setting a Labor Day deadline for updating voter information.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has promised to turn over the roster of affected voters this week to the League of Women Voters and several religious leaders who say they want to search for voters and encourage them to re-register.

"We want to try to find everyone that we can," he told the Columbus Dispatch, although he predicted most on the lists were duplicate entries, dead or no longer living in the state.

LaRose is also vowing to press the state legislature to make Ohio the 19th state with automatic voter registration, under which all eligible people are added to the voter rolls whenever they get a driver's license or otherwise interact with a state agency. But it seems unlikely that will happen by next year, when Ohio's 18 electoral votes will be a prime target of both presidential candidates.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was secretary of state in the 1980s, and several state legislators urged a lenient approach to culling the voter rolls in the interim. Brown is pushing legislation, which stands little chance in the GOP Senate, that would make it illegal for a state to use "failure to vote or respond to a state notice as reason to target" voters for removal from the rolls.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of democracy reform bills this week.

California governor signs three political reform bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.

The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.

Keep reading... Show less
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to restore voting rights for felons, noting that Virginia is among the states that permanently strips such rights after a felony conviction.

Virginia governor restores voting rights to over 22,000 felons

More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.

In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.

Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.

Keep reading... Show less