Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter registration purge policy

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration 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. If they fail to respond to the warning and do not vote within the next four years, their name will be removed from the voting register.

"It was Congress's judgment that a reasonable person with an interest in voting is not likely to ignore notice of this sort", he added.

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), whose office created the Crosscheck program, could not demand proof of citizenship beyond what is required under federal law before someone is registered to vote.

ACLU voting rights attorney Dale Ho pointed out on Monday's teleconference call that there was already another anti-voter purge lawsuit underway that includes an issue not addressed in the OH case.

"Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by", Sotomayor wrote.

Among those removed are Army veterans, who sued the state after being removed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Harmon was dropped for failing to cast a ballot in the 2012 presidential election. OH sent him a notice, but Harmon said he does not remember receiving it. "The right to vote is not 'use it or lose it".

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the OH secretary of state had the right to purge voters from rolls in his state for not having voted in an election for four or more years.

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And, sure enough, the Supreme Court split entirely along party lines in Husted.

Although he joined the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate concurring opinion expressing his belief that states have broad leeway under the Constitution to set their own voter qualifications. If they do not respond and do not vote over the following four years, they are purged.

The five justices who typically make up the conservative majority on the court backed the decision while the four liberal justices dissented.

Under the OH regime, voters who don't vote in a two-year federal election cycle are sent mailers asking that they confirm they still reside where they are registered to vote. At that point, the state sent an address-confirmation notice to those addresses requesting the voters to verify that their status hasn't changed (or that they are still alive!). The more obvious methods of disenfranchisement were addressed in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but Congress in 1993 passed the Motor Voter law to address other methods. Studies, he said, showed that only about 4 percent of Americans moved outside their counties.

Seventeen states, all with Republican attorneys general, sided with Ohio's position.

More broadly, the dispute plays into a national debate between Republicans and Democrats over a push in some states to tighten the voting process.

Conservative advocacy groups praised the ruling. The ruling simply says that if you follow the law precisely, then you can purge voters from the rolls.

Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute is not an easy case.

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