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Tuesday the deadline to register in time to vote on abortion, marijuana ballot questions

Shaker Heights man indicted for 2020 voter fraud; Ohio has since left system that caught him
Posted at 6:56 PM, Oct 09, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The voter registration deadline to choose if Ohioans should have access to abortion and if marijuana should be legalized is Tuesday, Oct. 10.

"The last thing you want to do is to go to cast your ballot in November and discover that they don't have you on the rolls," Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) law professor Jonathan Entin said.

Entin explained that even if someone has registered to vote, they should double-check before the deadline to see if they still are.

A viewer reached out to News 5 saying they received a letter in the mail claiming that someone in his household wasn't registered to vote. It came from the nonpartisan group Center for Voter Information (CVI) and the Voter Participation Center (VPC), which informed the voter that abortion rights was on the ballot this fall.

The man who received this letter has been a registered Democratic voter for decades, along with his wife, who the letter was directed toward, the viewer said. The couple provided documentation, which was then verified as legitimate by News 5.

This can come from data purges, CWRU elections law professor Atiba Ellis said.

"If a voter is inactive for at least two federal elections, then this opens the door for that voter to be removed from the voter rolls," Ellis said.

After six years of inactivity, and if the voter in question doesn't respond to the multiple mailings that go to their home, they are allowed to be removed from the active voter list. Ohio law also allows voters to be removed from the rolls if they move out of the county or if they die.

Due to this, voting advocacy groups may reach out around election time.

"Even organizations with the best of intentions might get the data wrong simply because the data may come corrupted," Ellis added.

RELATED: How to find out if your voter registration was removed in Ohio’s mass purge

Supporters of purges say people are removed to keep the lists clean and prevent fraud.

To be explicitly clear, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Ohio. One of the few cases ever resulting in a conviction was a Republican attorney from Cleveland who voted twice in the 2020 and 2022 elections.

RELATED:'Poster child for voter fraud' — Shaker Heights attorney found guilty for voting twice in 2020, 2022 elections

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has condemned these outside groups, saying they cause confusion.

"VPC and CPI are using inaccurate data, sending forms to individuals at the wrong address, claiming voters are not registered when they, in fact, are, and causing confusion with voters nationwide," the secretary said in 2022.

At the time, the groups fought back, arguing that LaRose mischaracterized them.

"We use all precautions and the best technology available to ensure that our mail recipients are both eligible to vote and unregistered at their current address," Tom Lopach, President and CEO of VPC and CVI, said in a statement.

Those against the eliminations say it is a form of voter disenfranchisement and data shows thousands of people were or were about to be taken off mistakenly.

LaRose originally planned to remove about 140,000 names in early 2023, but around 16,000 voters were mislabeled, according to Democrats. And this isn't the first time.

Back in 2019, the secretary spoke to News 5 about the challenges that came from the last voter sweep.

"Over 10,000 voters have said 'no I still want to be a registered voter in Ohio' and so they've taken action, they've gone on our website or filled out the form and sent it in," LaRose said at the time.

That list ended up gaining 30,000 additional voters, according to a New York Times report.

Entin acknowledges that sometimes organizations send warnings to the wrong people, but he also said this could help.

"If you're not sure about whether you're registered — check today," he said. "If you find that you're not registered, but you think you should be, contact your board of elections."

As for the couple who reached out to News 5, they said CVI helped them — and the woman re-registered to vote. News 5 reached out to both the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and the Secretary of State's office to see what could have happened, since the Democrat was clearly alive, hadn't moved and voted most recently in the August 8 special election in 2023, but also every election going back decades. This is documented by the CCBOE website. The board didn't respond, as it was closed for the federal holiday, but the secretary's team also did not respond.

"We are grateful that we were able to help yet another Ohioan register to vote," Lopach said. "This is a clear example of the positive role that we are playing in Ohio."

Find out if you are still registered to vote by clicking or tapping here.

Any person whose voter registration has been purged can immediately reinstate their ability to vote by reregistering on the Secretary’s registration website here or by visiting their county board of elections. Registration closes at end of day Tuesday night.

If you believe you or a loved one has been wrongfully removed from the voter list, please email News 5 Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau at Morgan.Trau@wews.com.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.