Steve Tingley-Hock is a Voting Rights Hero

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans    Hey, let’s give three cheers for a peoples’ hero today in these dark times.  I’m raising my voice for Steve Tingley-Hock who has been a central figure in calling foul in Ohio to voting purges that have led to more than 40,000 people of 235,000 on the Secretary of State’s list being found to still be eligible voters.

I found Tingley-Hock’s story deep in a piece in the New York Times by reporter Nicholas Casey, so I’ll let him tell Steve’s great story, before I add to it.  Here’s what he says, beginning with a quote from Steve.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s hard not to be jaded by this,” said Steve Tingley-Hock, who runs a watchdog group called the Ohio Voter Project and initially discovered the error.

How Mr. Tingley-Hock, a volunteer who doesn’t work for the government, chanced upon such a big mistake shows the kind of unusual backstop the state now depends on to carry out its work correctly.

A database consultant by trade, Mr. Tingley-Hock in recent years developed a hobby of spending his weekends downloading the state’s voter data onto his own laptop where he manages a database that keeps track of every voter in Ohio.

“Someone needed to keep a record of what’s happening in the voter population,” said Mr. Tingley-Hock, who thinks the purges are targeting certain demographic groups, especially young voters. “If you want to know what I’m doing on a Saturday morning, it’s downloading these files from the state.”

Working on a shoestring budget and donations from relatives, he keeps track of similar data from six other states, including North Carolina and Florida, which have both been criticized for voter restrictions.

When Mr. LaRose’s office released the spreadsheet with the list of about 235,000 names to be purged, Mr. Tingley-Hock ran them through his own database and found thousands of names matching active voters.

“It’s a simple query if you have a database management system,” he said. “A guy at his dining room table can figure this stuff out. It’s not rocket science.”

I love this guy!  Shoestring.  Volunteer.  Donations from his family.  You look at his website and it seems to still be talking about 2016-17.  But, he’s not jaded.  He’s determined!  Hunkering down on Saturdays at local cafes or his own dining room table, he just saved 40,000 votes.  That’s not all.  Another half-dozen states benefit from his democratic obsession, including the battlegrounds of Florida and North Carolina, where hanky-panky might have free rein.

Not as many, but some props go to Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose for making this not only transparent, but in his words “crowdsourcing” the list before people were purged so that super-citizens like Steve and regular citizens can make sure they are squared away as voters and eliminate mistakes on the front-end.

Now once we finish praising Brother Steve and giving at least an attaboy to LaRose, we have to ask the “simple query” to use Steve’s words, why isn’t every state taking the time with their resources to create similar databases and making the lists available on the front end so that a voter purge is really a weeding out of the deceased and wrong addresses, rather than a political tool of voter suppression?