Supreme Court OKs Ohio Voter Purge Law

Supreme Court OKs Ohio Voter Purge Law

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 ACLU took the state to court and had the Sixth Circuit rule that the state's process of cleaning the voter rolls violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which prohibits states from purging names from the voter registration list exclusively because of the failure to vote and requires the state to notify the individual of the potential change in status before rendering him or her inactive.

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".

Aside from showing the importance of who does and does not get confirmed for the Supreme Court, the decision illustrates the weakness of federal voting-rights laws. The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. The state appealed to the Supreme Court.

Civil-rights groups say the case is a landmark in the larger attempt by conservative states to marginalize ethnic minorities, who tend to have fewer people registered to vote already. Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud.

OH contends voters are not purged from registration rolls for not voting but for failing to respond to a notice mailed by the state to them and then not casting a ballot for four more years.

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

But Alito maintained that OH does not base its decision to remove voters "solely" on their failure to vote but also on the failure to respond to the notice from elections officials.

On the ground in Singapore ahead of the Trump-Kim summit
The White House said the daylong summit would also include a working lunch and a larger meeting involving aides to both leaders. Ri Chun Hee, North Korea's best-known anchor, delivered news of the summit taking place on Korean Central Television on Monday.

The state used databases to match up names that have not updated their registrations or voted for the last two years.

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

The Ohio program follows this to the letter.

"The court errs in ignoring this history and distorting the statutory text to arrive at a conclusion that not only is contrary to the plain language of the NVRA but also contradicts the essential purposes of the statute, ultimately sanctioning the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", she wrote.

"We are now only 5 months from our next federal election and any rush now to remove a backlog of up to 589,000 voters that he has marked for purging will be extremely disruptive and unfair to OH voters", Clyde wrote.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the ruling is a "validation" of the state's law.

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. He is running for lieutenant-governor this November on the Republican ticket headed by Mike DeWine, the current attorney general.

Republican President Donald Trump's administration backed OH in the case, reversing a stance taken by Democratic former President Barack Obama's administration against the policy.

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