Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

SCOTUS Rules on Ohio Voter Purge - Cortney O'Brien

SCOTUS Rules on Ohio Voter Purge - Cortney O'Brien

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.

For the five justices in the majority - Alito, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - the extent to which Ohio's practice hews to subsection (d) was enough.

"Combined with the two years of nonvoting before notice is sent, that makes a total of six years of nonvoting before removal", Aliso wrote.

The 5-4 opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, with the four liberal justices dissenting. The Ohio system puts voters who sit out just one presidential election and two midterms at risk for removal.

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".

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OH election officials send notices to anyone who fails to cast a ballot during a two-year period. Anyone who doesn't respond or vote within the next four years is deregistered.

OH has sent more than 3 million notices of address confirmation since 2011, when Husted became Secretary of State.

A 2016 Reuters analysis found roughly twice the rate of voter purging in Democratic-leaning neighbourhoods in Ohio's three largest counties as in Republican-leaning neighbourhoods.

"Neither the majority nor OH meaningfully dispute that the Supplemental Process disproportionately burdens these communities", she wrote.

She argued that the ruling from the conservative justices "entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate".

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She added: "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".

Conservative activists who push for more restrictive voting laws were quick to cheer Monday's decision. More than half the voters in OH fail to cast a ballot over a two-year period, the group said, and those who receive the state's notices simply throw them away.

OH officials were appealing the decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had sided with OH resident Larry Harmon, a veteran and computer consultant who was purged from the polls in the state process, and the other two groups.

"The fight does not stop here".

Partisan fights over ballot access are being fought across the country.

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