Ohio Voting Rights Groups Demand Voter Registration Deadline Be Extended

COLUMBUS–Today, League of Women Voters of Ohio, A. Philip Randolph Institute Ohio, ACLU of Ohio, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights, and Demos sent a letter to Ohio Secretary State Frank LaRose demanding that changes to the Primary Election calendar comply with the National Voter Registration Act and the Ohio Constitution.

Secretary LaRose’s March 16th directive (2020-06) sets a new voting schedule in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that violates Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires the deadline for voter registration to be no more than 30 days prior to a federal election. It also violates Article 5, Section 1, of the Ohio Constitution, which allows eligible Ohioans to vote when registered for 30 days before any election.

“When elections move, the strong protections of the National Voter Registration Act move with them,” said Brenda Wright, Senior Advisor for Legal Strategies at Demos. “That’s critical, because arbitrary voter registration deadlines are a barrier to the ballot for too many voters, especially Black and brown voters.”

“Ohio’s A. Philip Randolph Institute is going into battle again to fight to protect voters’ opportunities to register and vote. Every eligible Ohioan deserves to have their voice heard, their vote counted, and their constitutional rights respected,” said Andre Washington, Executive Director of Ohio’s A. Philip Randolph Institute.

“We agree that postponing the election helped protect the health and safety of Ohio voters and poll workers,” stated Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “Having an accurate, up-to-date registration is the first step for casting a ballot, so voters must be granted the same registration schedule as every other election.”

The directive prohibits Boards of Elections from registering new voters for the extended in-person primary, stating that February 18 would remain the registration deadline. Even if a different date is set through legislative or legal action, the registration date must be 30 days prior.

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