More than 1.5 million Ohioans who are eligible to vote but haven’t registered will get an invitation in August to join the voter rolls and thousands who have died or moved out of state will be dropped, under a new partnership between the Ohio Secretary of State and a national non-profit organization.
Secretary of State Jon Husted predicted on Tuesday that the total number of registered voters will climb beyond the current 7.6 million and the records will be more accurate as Ohio — once again — undergoes the added scrutiny of being a crucial swing state in a hotly contested presidential election.
“Our goal has always been to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio,” Husted said.
Ohio will join 18 states and the District of Columbia participating in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a national non-profit formed in June 2012 to focus on maintaining accurate voter registration records. It is funded by the Pew Center for the States.
ERIC states cross check voter files against Social Security death records, driver’s license and vehicle registration records and other databases. Pew is awarding Ohio a $400,000 grant to cover most of the cost of sending notice about the easiest path to register to an estimated 1.5 million to 2.25 million Ohioans who are eligible but not yet registered.
In Ohio, as in other states, counties maintain the voter rolls and sends updated information to the state. Voter registration records are routinely checked against Bureau of Motor Vehicle driver’s license and state ID records as well as death records from the Ohio Department of Health.
Joining ERIC will allow Ohio to check records against other member states and national data such as the U.S. Postal Service’s national change of address records. Ohio will get notice if Joe Buckeye moves from Cleveland to Pittsburgh and registers to vote in Pennsylvania.
Other ERIC states include: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama, Louisiana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
Husted added that Ohio will once again send absentee voter applications to all registered voters around Labor Day. About one-third of Ohioans vote early by mail or in person.
Husted said benefits of joining ERIC may include: fewer provisional ballots being cast and more ballots being counted, shorter lines at polling places, fewer last-minute registration records for workers to process, and a guard against voter fraud.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich this week signed into law a bill that establishes online voter registration beginning in January 2017. Husted said it is unfortunate that lawmakers blocked immediate implementation of online registration.