Supreme Court OKs Ohio Voter Purge Law

File All four liberals on the Supreme Court dissented in Monday's 5-4 case upholding Ohio's method of removing voters from its rolls. Sonia Sotomayor went further and focused on something else the impact the ruling will have on minority voters

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

Harmon and OH civil rights groups went to court, arguing that Ohio's practice conflicted with two federal voting laws.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said OH officials were not violating federal law with their purge policy (which, according to a federal appeals court, has resulted in 7,500 OH voters being wrongly purged).

Justice Samuel Alito delivered OH the news that it is allowed to purge thousands of stagnant voters from the state registration records. Courts around the country have mandated that states provide for specific days of early voting, out-of-precinct voting, same-day registration, pre-registration of minors, and straight ticket ballots - all the while barring states from requiring a photo ID to vote. Republicans are calling for stepped-up efforts to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say that push is a thinly veiled campaign to stop liberals and minorities from casting ballots. Although the state notifies the voter that they are in danger of being purged via a postcard, the entire process is triggered by the voter's failure to participate in the electoral process for "two consecutive years".

So the state asks people who haven't voted in two years to confirm their eligibility.

Facing those sorts of issues, OH wanted to try to remove people who failed to vote in a six-year period and who failed to return a notice, figuring at that point they had probably moved and the registration was invalid. Rather, it "removes registrants only when they have failed to vote and have failed to respond to a change-of-residence notice". If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.

The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a U.S. Postal Service list of people who have reported a change of address.

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In a dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the 1993 law prohibits removing someone from voting rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote".

"The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. In my view, Ohio's program does just that". "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.

"The Court errs in ignoring this history and distorting the statutory text ... ultimately sanctioning the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", she added. President Donald Trump's administration also supported Ohio's position.

The case came about when Larry Harmon challenged the process arguing that he was removed from the rolls even though he had not moved, but rather had opted not to vote in 2009 and 2010.

According to Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, however, the decision not only "gets the law wrong", but also "sends the wrong message to state officials". A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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