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18K Ohio voters inactive no more after high 2020 engagement

January 19, 2021 GMT
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose interacts with staff members as they follow the election from Ohio's election command center Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose interacts with staff members as they follow the election from Ohio's election command center Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose interacts with staff members as they follow the election from Ohio's election command center Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that over 18,000 inactive voter registrations are back in the state’s good graces after record-high participation in the 2020 election.

The Republican elections chief said that about 10,000 of the flagged voters cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election, which featured the high-intensity contest between outgoing Republican President Donald Trump and his rival, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

LaRose said 97,795 inactive voter files were removed in scheduled post-election voter roll maintenance, compared to the 115,816 initially flagged. Ohio has more than 8 million registered voters.

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To drop off the purge list, a voter needed to take some qualifying action. That could include election-related activity, such as updating a registration, requesting an absentee ballot or voting. It also could include an expanded list of government activities, such as visiting a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office.

The removal is required under state and federal law and affects Ohioans who haven’t voted in six years. That could also include voters who died, moved out of state, or are in the system twice.

Voting rights activists have long been critical of the process by which voter registrations are flagged for removal in Ohio, one of the nation’s most stringent.

Though secretaries of state of both parties have employed it and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld it, LaRose took extra steps this cycle to make the process open. That included giving a list of targeted registrations to voter-rights groups ahead of time, so they could try to find the voters and get them to confirm their desire to remain registered.