No voters will be removed as a result of failing to vote for several years, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office confirmed Tuesday.
Ohio's 88 county board of elections were directed on Monday to not take any action to use the state's "supplemental process" for removing voters from the rolls ahead of the November election. The supplemental process allows elections officials to cancel registrations if a voter has not cast a ballot in two years and then fails to vote or respond to a notice within the following four years.
“Not yet. I can’t comment on that,” said Sharon Locke, director of the Huron County Board of Elections. “This isn’t something we can just willy-nilly do. We need guidance from secretary of state.”
Huron County has 36,050 registered voters, but just 6,910 voted (19.17 percent) in the May primary.
“It is dispapointing,” Locke said about the turnout. “It shuld be dispppointing to everybody.”
She said she expects a much better turnout for the November election.
“We plan for everybody to show up,” Locke said. “Whoever shows up will get our best effort. You always have to be prepared (no matter how many people show up).”
The National Voter Registration Act prohibits cancellations within 90 days of a federal election. A special election for Ohio's 12th Congressional District will be held Aug. 7, so cancellations can't resume now, nor could they on Aug. 8, which is within 90 days of the Nov. 6 election.
Husted's office had no further details Tuesday about when boards could begin the cancellation process again.
Cancellations had been on hold pending the outcome of the case Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. Boards of election were instructed to count ballots from voters who had previously been removed because of the supplemental process. About 7,500 such voters cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election.
Ohio has used the supplemental process for decades to clean up the voter rolls, removing people who had died or moved out of state who weren't removed voluntarily or through checking names against other government databases. Former secretary of state, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, used the process every other year.
In 2014, Husted increased the frequency to every year following a court decision that found Ohio needed to clean its voter database. Husted said his office has removed nearly 560,000 deceased Ohioans from voting rolls since 2011.
Voter advocates and voters who had been purged sued the state in 2016, arguing the state violated federal law barring cancellations for inactivity.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, said the method does not violate federal law because the cancellations are a response to failure to respond to the mailing, not for failing to vote.
Reflector Managing Editor Joe Centers contributed to this story.