Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter registration purge policy

Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter registration purge policy

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld an OH practice of purging voters from the state's rolls, leaving voting rights advocates afraid that other states could end registration for hundreds of thousands of voters who sit out as little as one federal election. The majority said that Ohio's policy does not violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which prohibits states from wiping the names of people from voter rolls for failing to vote.

Queen said Kentucky has properly removed almost half a million voters since 2011. He's joined by four conservative colleagues, while all four liberal justices dissented.

Half a dozen other states have similar practices.

Taken as a whole, this welter of provisions could plausibly be read in the way Justice Samuel Alito does on behalf of the Courts' Republicans - as an instruction manual to carry out the sort of voter purge that OH used in this case.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would nominate Eric Murphy, the OH lawyer who argued the case on the state's behalf, to a seat on the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Aside from showing the importance of who does and does not get confirmed for the Supreme Court, the decision illustrates the weakness of federal voting-rights laws.

"Today's decision forces these communities and their allies to be even more proactive and vigilant in holding their States accountable and working to dismantle the obstacles they face in exercising the fundamental right to vote", she wrote.

"Today's decision threatens the ability of voters to have their voices heard in our elections", he said in a statement. OH passed a law a few years ago which allows the state to delete residents from the voter rolls if they fail to vote over a certain period of time. If the voter fails to respond and does not vote in the next two elections, that person is presumed to have moved and removed from the rolls.

OH is one of six states that uses the so-called supplemental process - and the only one that begins sending letters to voters if they go just two years without voting. Secretary of State Jon Husted increased the frequency from every other year to every year starting in 2014 because of a court decision faulting Ohio's voter roll maintenance. The state presumes a voter has moved if he does not respond to that notice to confirm he still lives at the address on file and also fails to vote in at least one election over the next four years. "Ohio's system of purging voters that choose not to participate in some elections unfairly silences hundreds of thousands of voters in the state, especially people of color and the homeless". The current DOJ supported OH in the case, while under President Barack Obama the department had argued that the state was unlawfully seeking to strip eligible voters from the rolls.

On behalf of Harmon, lawyers from the liberal think tank Demos wrote in a brief that "the ballots of more than 7,500 eligible Ohioans would have gone uncounted in the November 2016 election" had the appeals court decision not been in force at the time. "It does not", Alito said.

The Trump administration supported Ohio's voter purge.

This case, like many others, should never even have been in court, allowing wayward judges and the ACLU to lock up a commonsense law for several years and election cycles.

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