Voter purging: use it or lose it

By: Bo Terrill
Twitter: @because_terrill

On Monday, Sept. 17 the University of Findlay hosted a presentation titled “Your Vote, Your Voice” which was presented by voting expert Mike Brickner.  Brickner presented this in honor of national Constitution Day at Winebrenner Theological Seminary.  Approximately forty people attended, with almost all of them being either students or the elderly.

Brickner’s presentation focused on the injustices that undergo in the state of Ohio, including government officials “using a technical rule to disenfranchise tens of thousands of people across the state of Ohio.”  Brickner explained further that this particular case was targeting third party voter registration groups who were going into public housing agencies, low-income neighborhoods in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

 “It was really a partisan manipulation using technical rules to keep certain people away from the ballot,” said Brickner.

Later in the presentation Brickner introduced the concept of voter purging, which according to him, is something a lot of people are unaware of.  Ideally, voter purging would be a way for the government to negate the ability for someone to vote using a deceased person’s identity, or if a person moves from one state to another, it would not be ethical for the person in question to be able to vote for both state elections.  However, Brickner argued that the government was being immoral with the amount they are purging. 

“Ohio had one of the most aggressive voter purging campaigns of any state in the nation,” stated Brickner. “Our secretary of state created a process that allowed people to be purged if they did not vote regularly.”

Brickner presented this situation with a story regarding a man named Larry Harmon who neglected to vote for several consecutive elections and therefore, when he attempted to vote against a medical marijuana bill in 2015, was denied because the state of Ohio claimed he was not registered to vote.  Brickner explained that “our voting rights are a ‘use it or lose it’ right.” 

Several civil rights groups brought this situation to the United States Supreme Court who denied their claim, stating that “you can purge people from not using their right to vote”.  Brickner continued, explaining how hundreds of thousands of voters had already been purged prior to this year.

“In fact, there are two million Ohioans…who, if they don’t show up for 2018, 2020, or 2022 could be purged from the voter polls,” explained Brickner.

Among those who attended was Amber King, a student at the university, found the presentation enlightening.

“I learned that purging was a thing…I was under the impression that people in jail could not vote, so I found out that they could and the fact so few do even though our prison population is so big,”  said King who shocked at the presentation regarding these voting injustices. “These two million (people) could influence the vote of the country.”  

Brickner also had explained that “a majority of people in local jails actually have the right to vote.”  Brickner followed this up by discussing that certain offenses would determine whether or not the inmate is allowed to vote, however, most are able.  Brickner explained that it is a common myth that if someone is convicted of felony, they cannot vote.

The cutoff to register to vote in Ohio is Oct. 9 and students can register using either their on-campus address or their official residence.

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