Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Purge of Voting Rolls

Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Purge of Voting Rolls

Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Purge of Voting Rolls

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived Ohio's contentious policy of purging infrequent voters from its registration rolls, dealing a setback to voting rights proponents who said the practice has disenfranchised thousands of registered voters. 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. There have been no reported cases of OH voters who've moved elsewhere and attempted to vote twice.

The five justices who typically make up the conservative majority on the court backed the decision while the four liberal justices dissented.

Half a dozen other states have similar practices.

The Ohio program follows this to the letter.
More than half the voters in OH fail to cast a ballot over a two-year period, the group said, and those who receive the state's notices simply throw them away. "It does not", Justice Alito wrote.

But the Supreme Court majority said the appeals court was wrong because Ohio's process does not conflict with federal directives.

The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court decision, with a majority concluding that Congress and OH had included the process of sending back such a card in federal laws.

OH is perennially a battleground state in presidential elections and has given its electoral votes to the eventual victor in 28 of the last 30 elections.

"The right to vote is the most sacred right we have as citizens".

"Today's decision threatens the ability of voters to have their voices heard in our elections", he said in a statement.


Voting rights advocates had sued OH, saying its purges had the effect of culling minorities disproportionately from the voter rolls. 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.

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.

OH is of particular interest nationally because it is one of the larger swing states in the country with the potential to determine the outcome of presidential elections. If they don't respond and don't vote in the next two general elections, they are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and remain eligible.

Alito responded: "Justice Sotomayor's dissent says nothing about what is relevant in this case - namely, the language of the NVRA", adding that she "has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

In September 2016, a federal appeals court ruled against OH, saying that 7,515 ballots that had been struck could be cast in the that fall's election.

Belladona-Carrera says she anxious the ruling will be used by lawmakers in more states to adopt the OH system.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton noted on a video posted Monday that it was his organization's lawsuit that prompted OH to get more aggressive in purging ineligible voters in the first place. When he showed up to vote in 2015, he was told he was no longer allowed, even though he had not changed his residence or otherwise become ineligible.

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