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Sweeney urges Immediate Stop to next week's voter purge

Election results prove thousands of purged voters were still eligible to vote and should not have been purged in the first place
December 4, 2020
Bride Rose Sweeney News

State Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose urging him to stop the purge of Ohio voters scheduled to take place next Monday, December 7, 2020.

Said Rep. Sweeney, “Figures from last week’s final official canvass of the votes show that over 4,000 purged voters were still eligible to vote and in fact came out to vote on November 3rd, proving once again that Ohio’s purge process is fatally flawed and must be stopped.”

Highlights from Ohio’s voter purge activity:

  • Fall 2019 – Roughly 194,000 voters purged
  • August 2020 – Over 115,000 voters put on a list for December purge by Secretary of State Directive 2020-14
  • November 3, 2020
    • 4,240 purged voters voted, proving they never should have been purged in the first place
    • Thousands of voters on the August 2020 list showed up to vote, proving they never should have been on that purge list in the first place
  • December 7, 2020 – Unknown number of Ohio voters from August list set to be purged in accordance with Secretary of State Directive 2020-14

See the letter below:

December 4, 2020

Dear Secretary LaRose,

On the eve of your office’s next voter purge scheduled for Monday, December 7, I write to urge you to reconsider your order. What the final election results have shown is that Ohio’s voter purge captures still-eligible Ohio voters who have not moved out of state, who have not died, and who should not be discarded by a broken process that deprives people of their rights. So let’s stop this purge right now.

Only one week ago, we learned in the official canvass of the 2020 general election that 4,240 voters who were previously purged in Ohio showed up to vote. Most were purged just last year when we repeatedly urged you to abandon the broken process. Because of the vigorous efforts of voting rights advocates, these voters’ ballots were counted this year. But that settlement agreement will expire at the end of 2022 and ballots will again be thrown out. Countless other purged Ohioans might have showed up to vote this year had they not been removed from the rolls, making engagement and outreach more difficult for voter advocates, government entities, and campaigns.

The fact that so many thousands of voters that were purged remained eligible to vote -- and in fact did vote -- shows exactly what we Democrats have been saying about the voter purge for years. It is a clumsy, disorganized, error-filled method of maintaining the voter rolls and it wrongly captures Ohioans who still have the right to vote here.

The next purge is targeting roughly 115,000 Ohio voters according to an August list from your office. We do not know exactly how many will be removed, because your office has not put out a refreshed list of who will actually be purged in three days from now. How many of those on the August list showed up to vote in November? How many of those people that you targeted for purging never should have been on that list in the first place?

Your office also has not provided meaningful information about these Ohioans so that the average activist could make contact with them and keep them from being purged. Transparency doesn’t mean much if you’re just going to conduct the partisan discredited process out in the open without real accountability. How many errors will there be this time? A public office should not outsource this kind of quality control to the public. It’s your job to keep accurate rolls. The voters did their job by registering to vote.

Ohio failed to break records in voter turnout and we were outdone by our neighboring states. This is a time to figure out how to add people to our voter rolls, not remove them. I hope you will reconsider your purge order and tell the county boards of elections right now to stop the purge before even more Ohioans lose their powerful right to vote. It’s not too late to do the right thing.