About 7,500 voters who were purged from Ohio voter registration rolls from 2011 to 2014 but then reinstated at the order of a federal judge last year showed up and voted in the 2016 presidential election.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted made that admission Friday while announcing his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of a lower court case that threw out the state’s voter registration maintenance process.
“While partisan activists have asserted that up to 2 million voters had been wrongfully removed from the voter rolls, data from the 2016 Presidential Election returned only 7,500 ballots cast by those removed after election officials were not able to contact them,” Mr. Husted said in a news release.
He said he filed the appeal to justify the state’s “accurate and up-to-date voter rolls.”
A U.S. District Court judge upheld the state’s voter registration maintenance process but the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati last year struck down Ohio’s process, agreeing that it violates the federal prohibition against removing voters because of inactivity.
As a temporary remedy, the district judge directed the Secretary of State to allow the purged voters to vote provisionally if they still lived in the same county.
Mr. Husted denied that inactivity was the reason for removals, arguing that voters were purged if over a six-year period they failed to vote, failed to respond to a postcard asking them to confirm their address, and went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles at least once during which they were asked if they would allow the BMV to update their registration and they said no.
“After six years of attempting to find them to no avail, their board of elections removed them from the voter rolls under the same process used by Republicans and Democrats for over 20 years,” said Husted spokesman Joshua Eck.
The A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sued over the purge.
Since he took office, Mr. Husted said, purging has removed 532,000 dead Ohioans and cleared confusion from 1.6 million voters who were registered more than once.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D., Kent) blasted Mr. Husted’s appeal as a waste of taxpayer money. She cited a report from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission saying 843,391 voters were removed for “infrequent voting.” In all, 1,853,296 voters were purged in Ohio from 2011 to 2014 for a variety of reasons, including death and moving from the state.
“It looks like Secretary Husted is playing right along with President Trump’s lie about voter fraud with this appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Secretary Husted is playing a classic game of deflection. He wants you to believe that he is purging only deceased or duplicate voter registrations from the rolls. In fact, he is purging eligible American citizens,” Ms. Clyde said.
“The federal court forced Secretary Husted to count over 7,500 voters’ ballots in the 2016 election — voters he had illegally purged. Husted should stop these frivolous legal claims against Ohio voters,” Ms. Clyde said.
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