If You Haven’t Voted in Ohio Since 2008, Your Registration Has Probably Been Terminated

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Ohio Voters Head To The Polls For The State's Primary
Voters go to the polls for the Ohio primary on March 15, 2016.Photo: John Sommers II/2016 Getty Images

Imagine you’re a Cincinnati resident who doesn’t vote often. Maybe you have two jobs and are raising three kids — or have bad knees and don’t like standing in line. Regardless, the prospect of electing America’s first black president inspired you to turn out in 2008. Now, after sitting out three federal elections, you decide to cast a ballot this fall, just to make sure we don’t elect the first orange president.

Unless you remember to check your registration between now and October, you won’t be able to cast that ballot.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Ohio has removed tens of thousands of voters from its rolls for failing to turn out since 2008. Purged voters will need to reregister 30 days before November’s election in order to participate in the general. Those who don’t will be turned away at the polls.

The purge appears to be benefiting the Republican Party in the state’s largest metropolitan areas — voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods have been struck from the rolls at twice the rate as those in GOP-leaning areas. This discrepancy reflects Republicans’ greater propensity for voting in midterm elections. In the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati metropolitan areas, GOP-leaning suburbanites vote more frequently than the disproportionately nonwhite, working-class, left-leaning urban residents. This fact bedeviled Democrats in 2010 and 2014 — and now threatens to cost Hillary Clinton the key swing state this fall.

In Hamilton County, which encompasses Cincinnati and its suburbs, more than 10 percent of registered voters in the city’s heavily African-American neighborhoods have been removed for inactivity since 2012 — in suburban Indian Hill, only 4 percent have suffered that fate. In total, 30,000 voters have been purged from the county’s rolls in the past four years, a figure that exceeds Obama’s margin of victory there in 2012.

Federal law requires all states to keep their rolls updated, but only a few remove voters simply for failing to exercise the franchise.

Unlike other voting restrictions passed by GOP-controlled states in recent months, Ohio’s policy is long-standing. According to Reuters, both Republican and Democratic officials have been purging infrequent voters in the state for the past two decades.

But in 2016, Democratic state representatives and left-leaning advocacy groups are calling for the practice to be suspended, while their counterparts across the aisle are defending the policy.

If this is a really important thing to you in your life, voting, you probably would have done so within a six-year period,” Ohio secretary of State Jon Husted told the news service.

In other news, the Republican nominee’s son argued Thursday that all 50 states should adopt a new, Michael Bay–themed poll test.

I think in order to vote in this next election, you should have to watch that movie. I was livid,” Eric Trump told Fox News on Thursday, referring to 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. “She left these guys on a rooftop in the middle of Benghazi getting shot at, having mortars drop on their head because she wouldn’t pick up a phone call in the middle of the night.”

If a person doesn’t understand that Michael Bay movies always represent historical events with complete accuracy, why should they even have the right to vote?