Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

The Supreme Court gave the state of OH a decisive victory Monday, ruling the state is allowed to aggressively purge seemingly inactive voters from voting rolls - a practice civil rights groups have fought against.

In a 5-4 decision, the court's majority said the practice, known as the "supplemental process", does not violate the National Voter Registration Act, which bar states from removing the names of people from the voter rolls for failing to vote.

The justices rejected arguments that practices by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted violate a federal law meant to increase the ranks of registered voters.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered OH the news that it is allowed to purge thousands of stagnant voters from the state registration records.

The court's four liberal justices dissented from the decision. People who do not respond and don't vote over the next four years, including in two more federal elections, are dropped from the list of registered voters....

Partisan fights over ballot access are being fought across the country.

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and remain eligible. "And Justice Sotomayer has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".

Under the disputed procedure, OH mails notices to people who haven't voted in two years, asking them to confirm that they still live at that address. But not everyone who moves notifies the post office, the state said. The state sends automatic notices to any registered voter who doesn't cast a vote during a two-year election cycle.

In a dissenting opinion, Sotomayor said the ruling "ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate". "The only question before us is whether it violates federal law".

The challengers, represented by liberal advocacy group Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Husted in 2016 to end the policy. As part of the lawsuit, a judge past year ordered the state to count 7,515 ballots cast by people whose names had been removed from the voter rolls.

Said Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio: "Today's decision is a blow, not just to Ohio voters, but to the democratic process".

The case is Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, 16-980. A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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