Supreme Court Upholds Ohio Voter Registration Law


In the wake of news Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld OH officials' policy of aggressively taking "inactive" voters from the state's voter rolls, Richardson announced he'll continue taking OR in the opposite direction.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled OH could continue to remove individuals from voter rolls if they had not voted in two federal elections and have not responded to a confirmation notice or update their registration.

The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, was taken to the high court after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of OH resident Larry Harmon, who'd been removed from the state's registered voters list. Voters are not notified when their registration is removed. He is joined by his four conservative colleagues.

The SCOTUS ruling wasn't limited to the Buckeye State, as a handful of other states follow the voter purge act as well.

The practice of removing people who have skipped voting in a few elections from the voter rolls has been heavily criticized by civil rights groups, who say it lowers turnout at elections and disproportionately affects poorer neighborhoods. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion. Thankfully, today the Supreme Court reined in one of those lower court opinions, but the broader threat to state powers over election integrity remains strong.

Said Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio: "Today's decision is a blow, not just to Ohio voters, but to the democratic process". He concluded that the OH system didn't violate the NVRA's failure-to-vote language since the state also sent the written mailers.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio's aggressive voter purge method on Monday. All in all, the procedures meant someone who didn't vote for six years and who threw out the notices could be removed from the rolls.

Ohio's rules, which use voter inactivity to trigger a process that can lead to their removal from the voter rolls, are similar to those of states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Georgia.

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"Congress enacted the NVRA against the backdrop of substantial efforts by states to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters, including programs that purged eligible voters from registration lists because they failed to vote in prior elections", Sotomayor wrote.

In Florida, voters are moved from active to inactive status if they do not vote in two consecutive general elections and if they don't return a postage prepaid confirmation notice.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

It is no surprise the case comes from OH, which has the nation's strictest law on removing voters and is a closely divided state nearly always seen as a battleground in national politics.

"This case comes out of OH, but Georgia and several other states are trying to do the same thing".

The four liberal justices dissented.

On behalf of Harmon, lawyers from the liberal think tank Demos wrote in a brief that "the ballots of more than 7,500 eligible Ohioans would have gone uncounted in the November 2016 election" had the appeals court decision not been in force at the time.

Republican President Donald Trump's administration backed OH, reversing the stance taken by Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration against the policy, and welcomed the ruling. Alito said OH skirts that prohibition by sending voters the postcard, to which they can respond before their registrations are canceled.