Supreme Court Upholds Ohio Rules for Purge of Voting Rolls

13 June, 2018, 13:41 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

The court, in the 5-4 ruling, also seemed to side with those who say the potential for voting fraud exists, with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. citing statistics that 2.75 million people are registered to vote in more than one state, and some 24 million names on voting lists are inaccurate.

It means other states are now likely to follow Ohio's lead, and may even do so in a hurry before the midterm elections. If that person not respond and doesn't vote over the next four years, they are dropped from the registration list.

Among other things, Breyer observed that most people receiving confirmation notices from the state don't send back the "return card" that comes with it, regardless of whether they have moved. OH uses the failure to vote for two years as a rough way of identifying voters who may have moved, and then sends a card asking them to verify they live at the same address. If they finally woke up from oblivion years later, they could always re-register to vote.

Alito emphasized the ruling was based on whether or not Ohio's process violated federal law, not if it was good policy or not. If voters don't respond and don't vote in the next two general elections, they could be removed from the voter rolls.

"We are anxious that would-be vote suppressors will read too much into it and conclude that aggressive purges or unreasonable purges would be tolerated", Perez said in an interview. Today, in a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Alito, the high court recognized that indeed OH had a very fair process for removing names that was not based exclusively on voter inactivity.

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Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), whose office created the Crosscheck program, could not demand proof of citizenship beyond what is required under federal law before someone is registered to vote. Liberal groups and minority advocates said it gave states a green light to impose procedures that studies have shown tend to impact urban areas.

It also means that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which was created to encourage greater participation in our democracy, has been significantly weakened. A Reuters analysis found voters living in Demcratic-leaning neighborhoods in the state's largest three counties were removed about twice as often as voters in Republican-leaning neighborhoods.

The four liberal justices dissented.

Justice Samuel Alito says that OH is complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. "In Oregon, we believe that a registered voter should not lose their voting rights exclusively because they haven't participated recently". It includes a First Amendment claim, which alleges that Georgia, in its purge protocol, is violating Americans' right not to vote.

"This wrongly decided decision paves the way to mass disenfranchisement in OH and around the country", top House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi added. And Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing only for herself, warned that those who support voting rights should be vigilant in the wake of the court's decision.

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The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled for challengers, and more than 7,500 voters who otherwise would have been declared ineligible were allowed to vote in the 2016 election.

"Leftists opposed to election integrity suffered a big defeat today". 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. Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion.

But the ruling and the policy itself raise an old question on voting laws: What problem was OH trying to solve?

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