Voter rolls

It’s true, voting in Ohio has never been easier. With early voting options, those who desire to vote can do so even without leaving home.

Yet, the right to vote comes with certain responsibilities. A primary one is to make sure you’re properly registered and to update your registration with the board of elections if you move. In Ohio, that’s something one can do in person, through the mail, or online.

If a you take an election or two “off” from casting a ballot, that’s OK, just make sure you check to see that you’re still registered at least a month before the next election. Again, a stop at the board of elections, a phone call, or a check online is all it takes to verify status.

Monday’s 5-4 ruling by the United States Supreme Court that validated Ohio’s process of purging its voter database is consistent with the idea that voting is an important civic duty.

By eliminating those who haven’t voted for six years or reported a relocation during that time, the state is reducing the possibility that voter fraud will occur.

At the same time, no one loses their future ability to vote by not voting. Even if purged, a person can re-register and vote if they meet the deadline for the next election. Meanwhile, those who regularly vote or who have notified elections officials of a move, remain in the database.

Opponents of the process have claimed it discriminates against minorities, the disabled and low-income people. But the court majority found Ohio’s method does not violate federal law, including the National Voter Registration Act and Help America Vote Act, and found it was legally reasonable.

Under the purge procedure, Ohio mails a postcard to registered voters who haven’t voted in two years at their last known address, requesting confirmation of residency. If the person doesn’t respond, then doesn’t vote during the next four years, the state removes that person from the voter database.

While lower courts had put a hold on Ohio’s purge of the voter rolls while the case was pending, this week’s ruling will allow the process to resume after the November election.

Just as those who drive a motor vehicle must renew their license every four years, voters have the responsibility to keep their voting status active if they want to participate in elections.

Ohio, like all states, has a stake in keeping its voter rolls clean. While fraud cases are rare, the integrity of all state elections relies on the concept of one vote per voter.

The high court’s ruling shouldn’t slow the efforts of the Secretary of State Office, local boards of election, and other agencies to educate the public about voter registration rules and requirements.

Encouraging all eligible adults to register to vote — and to vote — must remain a high priority.



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