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Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls Supreme Court Allows Ohio to Purge Inactive Voters
Deanna Wagner | 12 June, 2018, 02:26

In 2016, an appeals court ruled Ohio's process violated the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Facing those sorts of issues, OH wanted to try to remove people who failed to vote in a six-year period and who failed to return a notice, figuring at that point they had probably moved and the registration was invalid.

The Supreme Court has heard a bevy of voting rights cases since its controversial 2013 decision striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, which had forced mostly Southern states to clear changes in election laws with federal officials.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion, says OH is complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act by maintaining its voter lists. "The right to vote is not "use it or lose it", said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes from minorities and poorer people who tend to vote for Democrats.

"It is undisputed that OH does not remove a registrant on change-of-residence grounds unless the registrant is sent and fails to mail back a return card and then fails to vote for an additional four years", Alito wrote. "And Justice Sotomayer has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".

In a dissenting opinion, Sotomayor said the ruling "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". Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud.

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls
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The challengers said there are six states that remove voters from their registration lists for failure to vote, but that OH is the most aggressive.

The state said the policy was needed to keep voting rolls current, clearing out people who have moved away or died.

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

Adding to the tension in the case, the Trump administration reversed the position taken by the Obama administration and backed Ohio's method for purging voters.

"This decision will fuel the fire of voter suppressors across the country who want to make sure their chosen candidates win re-election - no matter what the voters say". A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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