[Image courtesy of scottcochrane]

Let’s play a game …

Last week, the State of Ohio entered into a settlement in which it agreed to take steps to improve its voter rolls, specifically:

  1. Monthly utilization of federal data sources to collect out-of-state death notices for removal of deceased records;
  2. Participation in the Kansas-administered Voter Registration Cross-Check Program to identify and remove outdated and/or duplicate records;
  3. Utilize Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles data to update voter registrations with changes of address;
  4. Dedicate resources to encourage voters to use online tools to keep voter records updated;
  5. Build outreach programs to voters who do not consistently participate in election activities.

The settlement also requires the state to conduct outreach and educational programs for college students about voter registration address updates through Ohio’s online tool.

So – looking at that list, can you guess the plaintiff?

It’s kind of a mixed bag; there are some “integrity” type provisions there but there are also some participation-focused requirements as well. It’s clearly compromise of some sort – which is what settlements are supposed to be – but there isn’t a clear trend either way.

So – what’s your answer? [Go ahead – take sixty seconds … I’ll wait.]

Time’s up!

The correct answer is True the Vote – the citizens’ group “working to restore integrity to the American system of electing its leaders.” Their complete announcement of the settlement is found here.

That may be a bit of a surprise, since True the Vote usually is associated with poll watching programs and other efforts to “clean up” voter rolls. But the organization is clearly focusing on identifying the best way to achieve its mission of “promot[ing] ideas that actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation.”

In hindsight, it may be easier to see the policy priorities of True the Vote in the settlement (full link here) but the important take-away is that as we learn more about the management of voter rolls, activists on both sides who really care about the process as opposed to the outcome are going to start landing on similar solutions to the challenges facing the field.

This doesn’t mean that True the Vote and their progressive counterparts/rivals won’t lock horns again in the future in Ohio and elsewhere – but if everyone concerned is honest (and nonpartisan) about what can be done to clean up and expand our voter rolls, it may get harder and harder to use the content of the discussion (as opposed to the rhetoric) to identify who’s making what proposals to improve voter registration.

In short, Guess the Plaintiff may continue to get harder and harder – and I think that’s a good thing.