WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just six days after Ohio voters began receiving ballots for the upcoming November election, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) canceled 26,666 voter registrations in the state.
On Sept. 22, ballots were sent to overseas citizens and military members to begin voting in the Nov. 7 general election and on Sept. 28, LaRose ordered the cancellations, despite instructing county boards to pause registration cancellations ahead of the previous election in August.
The cancellations were a result of voter inactivity — each cancellation involved a voter who did not vote or respond to notices from elections officials over a six-year timeframe.
The move has sparked pushback and concerns from Democrats who question the timing of the decision. LaRose, who was a vocal leader of a failed August ballot measure that would have required future conditional amendments to receive 60% support, ordered county boards to not remove voters from the rolls in June ahead of the election.
But in the same directive, he also directed the late September purges, which took place just over a month before the November general election where voters will consider Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would enshrine reproductive freedom in the state’s constitution. Unlike the August measure to raise the threshold to 60%, LaRose has been an outspoken critic of the reproductive rights amendment, and has admitted that the intent of the now-failed amendment was to stop the upcoming measure from passing.
Ohio state Rep. Rose Sweeney (D) sent a letter to LaRose probing the cancellations, and alleging that LaRose’s removals are being rushed “now that our reproductive rights, our very lives, are on the November ballot.” She further asked LaRose to clarify questions regarding the purge — neither he nor his office announced the cancellations, despite doing so in the past. Instead, the state’s database was quietly updated.
A lawyer for LaRose claimed the purge was not a choice, but rather that it complies with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). According to the Ohio Capital Journal, “state and federal law discourage cancelling registrations ahead of an election.” The NVRA limits changes to voter rolls close to an election, and state law requires officials to complete the changes “not later than 90 days prior” to a federal primary or general election. As he did in 2022, LaRose simply could have waited until after the upcoming election.