Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

U.S. Supreme Court allows OH and other state voter purges

U.S. Supreme Court allows OH and other state voter purges

Myrna Perez, who heads the Voting Rights and Elections project at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the Supreme Court had reiterated that states must both give notice to voters whose registrations might be canceled and give those voters the time to either become active or respond.

Husted said that OH wants to "make it easy to vote and hard to cheat".

Opponents of Ohio's voter purge practice said federal law prohibits citizens from being penalized just for the failure to vote.

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. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues.

Monday's ruling concerning the battleground state comes as the country gears up for midterm elections this fall.

Democrats have accused Republicans of taking steps at the state level, including laws requiring certain types of government-issued identification, meant to suppress the vote of minorities, poor people and others who generally favour Democratic candidates. Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud.

OH aggressively trims its voter rolls by sending notices to people who have not voted in two years.

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Dale Ho, director of Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the vast majority of other states find ways to make sure voter lists are up to date by using tax records, or returned mail or Department of Motor Vehicles change of address forms to determine whether someone may have moved.

The state argued that the policy was needed to keep voting rolls current, clearing out people who have moved away or died.

So the state asks people who haven't voted in two years to confirm their eligibility. Anyone who doesn't respond or vote within the next four years is deregistered. "And Justice Sotomayer has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".

In a separate dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Congress enacted the voter registration law "against the backdrop of substantial efforts by states to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters".

"The court errs in ignoring this history and distorting the statutory text to arrive at a conclusion that not only is contrary to the plain language of the NVRA but also contradicts the essential purposes of the statute, ultimately sanctioning the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", she wrote. "The Trump campaign reelection strategy is voter suppression", former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), who runs the voting rights group Let America Vote, told The Hill. In any case, I'm sticking with my original view: the OH law pushes right to the edge of what's legal under federal law, but it doesn't go beyond.

Ohio's policy would have barred more than 7,500 people from voting in the 2016 presidential election had the lower court not blocked it, according to court papers. 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.

The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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