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Voter Drive Registers 140,000 Ohioans, Seeks More

The deadline to register to vote in Ohio for the November election is Oct. 11. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
The deadline to register to vote in Ohio for the November election is Oct. 11. (Tony Webster/Flickr)
September 26, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, but volunteers in Ohio already have been pounding the pavement to help get eligible voters on the rolls.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative has registered more than 140,000 voters in 2016, and aims to register 10,000 more before the Oct. 11 deadline.

Spokesman Michael McGovern says it's important that folks check to make sure their current registration is valid.

"The state has been purging voters who maybe haven't voted in a couple years and they're getting knocked off the rolls and they're not even aware,” he explains. “If you move between elections and don't update your status, then you can't vote at the proper polling location. There's just a lot of barriers there."

On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled Ohio's purge of millions of registered voters from the rolls violates the National Voter Registration Act.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, more than 1 million people were removed for either moving or infrequent voting between 2011 and 2014.

As a swing state, Ohio's elections are competitive, and McGovern notes sometimes a few votes can make a difference.

"To put that in perspective, in 2012 Barack Obama won Ohio by 160,000,” he points out. “In 2010, John Kasich was elected governor by about 70,000. George W. Bush won Ohio in 2004 by 110,000."

Along with registering voters, McGovern says the group also is organizing Ohio communities around social and economic justice issues in order to create a path from civic engagement to improved quality of life.

"For most Ohioans, this is the voice they have,” he stresses. “They're not these billionaires making big contributions to political campaigns. Their voice is their ability to vote and that is their ability to impact their communities and neighborhood."

On National Voter Registration Day, community events are scheduled in neighborhoods, churches and at college campuses around the state.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH