Judicial Watch and True the Vote filed a lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on August 30, alleging that Husted’s office has failed to maintain accurate voter rolls as required by the Clinton-era National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, requests that the court find Husted in violation of the NVRA and compel Husted to comply with the law.
Section 8 of the NVRA requires the secretary of state to “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters by reason of – (A) the death of the registrant; or (B) a change in the residence of the registrant.” Judicial Watch filed suit after months of working to ensure Husted, a Republican, was fulfilling his duties.
According to a Judicial Watch press release summarizing the case, Husted’s office replied to a February 2012 inquiry with a letter that “pointed to a directive issued on April 18, 2011, to remove ineligible voters from the list due to change of address, but failed to mention a single initiative undertaken to comply with the directive.”
Judicial Watch also reported that the March 2, 2012 response “failed to reference a single initiative” to clear outdated records from voter rolls. The secretary of state’s office also attempted to direct blame at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose office Husted had contacted for guidance.
“There’s certainly more the secretary of state can do to ensure Ohio has a fair election this November and in the future,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in an interview with Media Trackers.
“There’s got to be a consistent effort to keep the voter rolls clean. It requires diligence,” Fitton added.
As spelled out in the complaint, Husted “has failed to fulfill the State’s obligation to make reasonable efforts to remove the names of ineligible voters from Ohio’s voter registration rolls, in violation of Section 8 of NVRA.”
Using Census records and voter registration data, Judicial Watch determined that the number of names on voter rolls exceeds 105 percent of each county’s voting age population in both Auglaize County and Wood County. In Morrow County, the number of voter registrations exceeds 100 percent of the voting age population.
In 31 other counties, the number of registered voters is between 90 and 100 percent of the voting age population. Overall, 34 of Ohio’s 88 counties have a number of registered voters far in excess of the 71 percent average recorded in the 2008 presidential election. Judicial Watch argues that these numbers paint a clear picture of negligence with regard to Husted’s NVRA Section 8 responsibilities.
“I’m hopeful that the Ohio secretary of state will do a better job of following federal law in the future,” Fitton told Media Trackers.