TIME TO VOTE?

October 15, 2020

Oh my! The church has gone out on a limb and has gotten into politics. This is not quite true, but FamilySearch has supplied us all with a new image database offering this week – Ohio Voter Records 1893-1960 – https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/3937280

Specifically, they have digitized the lists of electors for Allen County 1904-1960 [https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/433290], the voter registrations for Cuyahoga County 1893-1900 [https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1930150], and the absent war voter ballots from Union County for 1944 [https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/3581408]. Who even knew that these things existed? …and they are already indexed!

Cuyahoga County 1893 List of Electors – courtesy, FamilySearch

Voting records can provide the user with an ancestor’s name, age, residential address, and the date of registration. This can help pinpoint relatives as they moved back and forth, especially tenant farmers and city renters. My own grandparents moved 33 times between their 1910 marriage date and when they finally purchased a house in 1934. These voting registers provide a resource to track mobile people if they were out of bounds of the closest city directory. My grandparents did not own a car and moved with Grandpa’s job on the railroad. Others might have been moving every six months to evade the bill collectors – like they still do today.

We do have an occasional voting list at the Ohio Genealogical Society library, usually a one-page manuscript hidden amongst justice of the peace journals or common pleas court records, but nothing like this.

Unfortunately, my own grandparents did not reside in these three counties. But still, our recommendation is to take a hard look at these examples on FamilySearch before you visit the polling places in November. Our ancestors valued this tool of democracy just as we do today.

Okay, this is 2020, isn’t it? One day after the promotional FamilySearch email on the new voting records release, the search engine was absent from the wiki and the original links went nowhere. After debating whether to come up with a new idea for this blog, the index and links were reactivated late Thursday. What happened? The 17 rolls of Allen County electors are locked and may be viewed only at Family History Centers and affiliate libraries; the 8 rolls of Cuyahoga County voter registrations are indeed viewable to all [check them out]; and the 1 roll of Union County absent war voter ballots now has the appendage “not reviewed” with no link to any digital images. The index still searches all three items.

Oh well, go vote. Take a breath! I am sure they had to reassess the original filming contracts and perhaps even Ohio voting registration law. Come back in a few weeks and visit the FamilySearch catalog and wiki again and look for voting records or voting registers.

Tom Neel, OGS Library Director