Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has ordered an expanded effort to purge the state’s voter rolls of ineligible voters after an investigation by his office found 137 voter registrations assigned to individuals who aren’t allowed to vote in U.S. elections.

Mr. LaRose issued a directive on May 14 ordering Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to launch a confirmation and removal process of ineligible individuals from the state’s voter registration rolls.

“Ohioans overwhelmingly passed an amendment to our state constitution which makes it clear that only U.S. citizens can vote in our elections,” Mr. LaRose said in a statement. “It is my duty under the law to uphold the constitution, and the legislature has explicitly tasked me with ensuring that only eligible citizens can register and vote.”

The secretary of state also announced additional steps by his office to carry out an annual review of the statewide voter registration database to identify individuals who don’t appear to be U.S. citizens.

As part of that enhanced voter roll verification process, Ohio has called on the Biden administration to provide access to several sources of citizenship data, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ SAVE database, as well as information from the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, and federal district court records.

137 ‘Non-Citizens’ On Ohio Voter Rolls

Mr. LaRose’s office said that Ohio’s enhanced voter roll purge comes after the Secretary of State’s Public Integrity Division and Office of Data Analytics and Archives recently completed a review of records provided by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The review found 137 voter registrations assigned to Ohio residents who twice confirmed to the BMV that they were not U.S. citizens.

Under Ohio law, for a person to be removed from voter rolls, they must confirm their lack of citizenship to the BMV twice. The individual must also have either registered to vote, updated a registration, or voted in Ohio in between the two instances of submitting to the BMV the required documentation.

“It’s important to recognize that some of these registrations may be the result of an honest mistake,” Mr. LaRose said in a statement. “These may be well-meaning people trying to pursue the American dream, and communication barriers sometimes result in a registration form being submitted in error.”

“We need to help them get that cleared up before an accidental registration becomes an illegal vote that could result in a felony conviction or even deportation,” he added.

Since there may be more ineligible individuals registered to vote in Ohio than the initial investigation uncovered, Mr. LaRose’s office is pursuing the enhanced voter roll verification process, which requires cross-referencing BMV data with other databases, including federal ones.

‘Routine but Enhanced’

In a separate but related move, Mr. LaRose’s office announced on May 2 that county election directors had been directed to begin a “routine but enhanced” hunt through the voter rolls ahead of November’s election, in a legally mandated effort to remove inactive registrations.

“Every state is required to have an ongoing process to verify the accuracy of its voter rolls, but Ohio has the most advanced and effective protocols in the nation,” Mr. LaRose said in announcing the directive. “This work is not only critical to keeping our elections honest, but it’s also essential to making sure our election officials can properly plan for the right number of ballots, voting machines, polling places and poll workers.”

The list maintenance effort will target four specific areas: change of address, past due removals, returned acknowledgments, and BMV mismatches.

Part of the process will involve verifying registrations that appear to be inactive because of a change of address registered with the U.S. Postal Service that the voter didn’t confirm to their local elections board. Such listings are flagged for removal after four consecutive years of voter inactivity.

Past-due removals are records previously flagged for removal after the required four-year waiting period and identified through an investigation conducted by Mr. LaRose’s office as remaining in the system.

Returned acknowledgments are new registrations that counties acknowledged with an informational postcard that was returned as undeliverable. BMV mismatches are registrations that don’t match certain details a person provided to the Ohio BMV, such as their name, birth date, social security number, or driver’s license number.

As part of the review, all registrations flagged as inactive and legally qualified for removal will be listed for public review on a roster posted on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, providing one final opportunity for a registration to be reviewed before being deleted.

The moves to clean up Ohio’s voter rolls come amid a broader effort by election integrity advocates to ensure that only people who are legally qualified to cast votes can do so in the November election. Doubts still linger in the minds of many voters about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump claims was rigged in favor of his rival, President Joe Biden.

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