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Ohioans, it's time to check your voter registration

Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 18:48:31-04

Are you registered to vote in the upcoming general election? If you’re not sure, now is a good time to check.

The deadline for Ohio voter registration is Oct. 5 — and attempting to vote when you’re not registered or unsure of your status is risky. Unregistered Ohio voters can only have their ballots counted under an extremely narrow set of circumstances.

“It’s definitely not the best route,” said Eric Corbin of the Butler County Board of Elections. “If a voter wants to make sure they’re registered and they can vote and their vote is going to count, they want to update their registration now.”

The narrow set of circumstances mentioned above: The APRI Exception, named for a recent legal settlement between Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

The exception in 2019 was the compromise that ended a three-year legal battle between the Ohio Secretary of State’s office (occupied by now-Lt. Gov. Jon Husted when the suit was filed) and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, which accused the government of improperly purging hundreds of thousands of voters from its system.

Under the exception, a voter whose information has been purged from the state’s voter rolls since 2011 can cast a valid ballot if they live in the same address they did the last time they were registered.

“You have to vote as a provisional voter and then, as a provisional voter, you have to go over these thresholds of making sure that the envelope is filled out completely and it's filled out correctly,” said Joe Mallory, first vice president of the Cincinnati NAACP.

His organization is among several intent on getting Ohioans to register ahead of the election, giving themselves the best possible chance of having their ballot counted.

Relying on procedural exemptions isn’t a safe strategy, election officials said. During the March primary, Hamilton County accepted 168,000 provisional ballots; Butler County accepted 641.

Neither had more than 11 qualify to be counted under the APRI Exception.

The moral of the story: Check and update your registration before the high-stakes moment of a presidential election.

If you live in Ohio, you can check on your registration status at this link.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has also posted a database of voters whose names are scheduled to be purged after November. You can see if you’re on the list by searching at this link.