SCOTUS Rules on Ohio Voter Purge - Cortney O'Brien


In the 5-4 decision (pdf), the court found that the state, which drops people from the rolls if they don't vote and then don't respond to notices to confirm their residency, does not violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Organizations and individuals who challenged the law said Ohio's process was illegal under federal laws that ban states from using voter inactivity to spark removal from the rolls. The Supreme Court is allowing OH to clean up its voting rolls by targeting people who haven't cast ballots in a while. "Marginalized populations remain extremely vulnerable to state-sanctioned voter suppression and disenfranchisement, and we will continue to fight to uphold the rights of eligible voters in the 2018 midterm elections, and beyond". His case was backed by 12 generally Democratic-leaning states (pdf, p.33-35), and was opposed by the Trump administration and 17 typically Republican states (pdf, p.21-22).

The case is Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, 16-980. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes from minorities and poorer people who tend to vote for Democrats.

"Today's decision forces these communities and their allies to be even more proactive and vigilant in holding their States accountable and working to dismantle the obstacles they face in exercising the fundamental right to vote", she wrote. "The only question before us", Alito made clear, is whether the practice "violates federal law". Many states over the decades had erected to voting, sometimes targeting black voters.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who filed a separate dissent, said that Congress enacted the voter registration law "against the backdrop of substantial efforts by states to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters".

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The Supreme Court gave the state of OH a decisive victory Monday, ruling the state is allowed to aggressively purge seemingly inactive voters from voting rolls - a practice civil rights groups have fought against.

The case arose when U.S. Navy veteran Larry Harmon went to his local polling place in OH to vote in 2015.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016 blocked Ohio's policy, prompting the state's appeal to the Supreme Court. At least twelve other conservative states said they would follow Ohio's lead if it prevailed, NBC reports.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberal justices, said, "Using a registrant's failure to vote is not a reasonable method for identifying voters whose registrations are likely invalid".