Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

The Trump administration just came out in support of Ohio's voter purges

The Trump administration just came out in support of Ohio's voter purges

They argue that the law says each voter "has the right not to cast a vote - and the mere exercise of that right should not be the basis for removal from the voter rolls".

The U.S. Justice Department - which past year backed civil rights groups in a court case over Ohio's decision to remove thousands of inactive voters from OH voter rolls - is now taking a different tack under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Justice Department attorneys have filed a friend of the court brief, saying OH can legally remove voters flagged as inactive or those who have failed to respond to recent mailings.

The DOJ under former President Barack Obama supported the appeals court ruling, noting that in 2010 the department had issued guidance that "addresses the precise issue presented in this case and articulates the department's position that states must have reliable evidence indicating a voter's change of address before they initiate the NVRA-prescribed process to cancel the voter's registration based on a change of residence".

The case before the Supreme Court next term was filed by OH resident Larry Harmon who found out when he tried to vote in a local election in 2015 that he was no longer registered.

In their brief, government lawyers say they reconsidered the OH vote-purging issue after the "change in Administrations", and they argue that the state's actions are legal under federal law.

The Ohio procedure allows the state to purge voters meeting certain criteria for being inactive.

Secretary of State Jon Husted has said the case is about maintaining the integrity of elections and without these restrictions, it would be hard for elections officials to properly maintain voter rolls. This brief, unlike the prior one, was not signed by career attorneys in the civil rights division.

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Ohio's policies involved sending notices to voters who did not vote during a two-year period.

The Obama DOJ had supported the civil rights groups that challenged Ohio's voter-roll maintenance process past year as unlawful, but the agency has filed a new amicus brief that says the process does not violate the law.

The Ohio program, which the Sixth Circuit struck down last September, had allowed the state to send registration confirmation notices to voters who have not voted for two years. He called the department's decision to back the state "alarming".

"Maintaining the integrity of the voter rolls is essential to conducting an election with efficiency and integrity", Husted said in a statement in May when the Supreme Court said it would hear the case.

Husted told Reuters that the policy was administered the same by both Republicans and Democrats.

JOHNSON: The Justice Department says states have broad discretion in how they maintain their voter lists. Some of those voters were legitimately removed because they either died or left the state, but a 2016 investigation by Reuters found that low-income, black, Democratic voters were disproportionately purged. "Only the leadership of the Department has changed", said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Adams, a conservative voter fraud prosecutor and former DOJ lawyer, disagrees with multiple studies showing there's no proof the USA election system is plagued by widespread chicanery.

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