Supreme Court Backs Ohio's Right to Purge Voting Rolls
Supreme Court Backs Ohio's Right to Purge Voting Rolls
Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls
12 June, 2018, 02:49
Samuel Alito delivered the opinion for the conservative majority in Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute that gave the state of OH - famed for its highly partisan election administration regime - great leeway in designing a purge of voter rolls after narrowly construing some confusing language in the federal motor-voter legislation (officially the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) that was created to expand voter participation.
The ruling could have far-reaching effects. J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, was happy with today's decision and predicted, "The days of trying to hamstring maintenance responsibilities in the absence of federal guidance are over".
Voting rights advocates are furious about the decision, saying on Monday that it disenfranchises voters.
"You got to ask yourself, why doesn't the Left like efforts to clean up those voting rolls?"
The problem is that the Left has the resources to attack every single election integrity law or commonsense method and procedure for conducting elections. "And I think the inescapable conclusion is that they want to be able to steal elections, if necessary".
"Democracy suffers when laws make it harder for US citizens to vote", top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said. Such a trigger mechanism, according to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, constitutes removal "solely by reason of a failure to vote". Notices are sent to voters whose registration is flagged. The Pew Center on the States estimated in a 2012 report that 2.75 million Americans are registered in more than one state.
In essence, a voter can be purged if he or she sits out two midterms and a presidential election, and fails to respond to the mailer sent by the state. OH wanted to initiate a purge that sent notices to voters if they missed voting for just two years, arguing that it was the subsequent failure to respond to multiple notices that triggered their removal, not failure to vote. As the New York Timesexplains, federal law forbids removing people from registration rolls because of a failure to vote, but it gives state officials leeway to drop voters who they think have moved. But they can do so if voters don't respond to confirmation notices. What's more, he added, the state also keeps voters on the rolls if they take nonvoting actions like filling out a voter registration form or signing a petition. The second law, the 2002 Help America Vote Act, directed the states to maintain a system to cull ineligible voters from their lists. Most of the states that backed OH have Republican governors or legislatures; most of those opposed are governed by Democrats.
For the five justices in the majority - Alito, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - the extent to which Ohio's practice hews to subsection (d) was enough. Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion. The court's decision essentially endorses "the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", Sotomayor wrote.
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