Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

'Setback for Voting Rights': Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Voter-Purge Process

'Setback for Voting Rights': Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Voter-Purge Process

The Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to one of the practices used by OH to remove voters from the state's voter rolls.

WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court on Monday upheld OH election rules that allow the cancellation of voter registrations for citizens who haven't voted in two years and don't confirm their eligibility.

The five justices who typically make up the conservative majority on the court backed the decision while the four liberal justices dissented. "The only question before us is whether it violates federal law", wrote Samuel Alito, referring to the 1993 Voter Registration Act.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberal justices, said, "Using a registrant's failure to vote is not a reasonable method for identifying voters whose registrations are likely invalid". "The right to vote is not "use it or lose it", said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. Republicans say voter rolls need scrutiny to prevent fraud and promote ballot integrity, while Democrats insist the efforts are meant to reduce turnout from Democratic-leaning groups such as racial minorities.

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

In Florida, voters are moved from active to inactive status if they do not vote in two consecutive general elections and if they don't return a postage prepaid confirmation notice. "Ohio's process is accordingly lawful".

She argued that the ruling from the conservative justices "entirely 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 decision could mean that more states will adopt similar laws to trim their voter rolls, particularly when (as the majority observed today) roughly one in eight voter registrations is "either invalid or significantly inaccurate".

Reminder: In #Husted, the Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions chose to abandon its longstanding position that the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act prohibit techniques like Ohio's voter purge. As part of the lawsuit, a judge a year ago ordered the state to count 7,515 ballots cast by people whose names had been removed from the voter rolls.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in 2016 blocked Ohio's policy, ruling that it ran afoul of the 1993 law. A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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