Weekly Primer: SCOTUS Deals Voting Rights Advocates A Major Setback

11 June, 2018, 23:51 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

By a 5-4 vote that split the conservative and liberal justices, the court rejected arguments in a case from OH that the practice violates a federal law meant to increase the ranks of registered voters. Voters who then fail to respond to the notice and vote within the next two years are removed from the rolls.

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

The lawsuit was filed against Ohio's secretary of state over the practice of flagging registered voters after they've missed one federal general election.

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

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.

"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. "We have no authority to second-guess Congress or to decide whether Ohio's Supplemental Process is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date", Associate Justice Samuel Alito explained in the majority opinion. Republicans say voter rolls need scrutiny to prevent fraud and promote ballot integrity, while Democrats insist the efforts are meant to reduce turnout from Democratic-leaning groups such as racial minorities. "The right to vote is not "use it or lose it", Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters which has fought in favor of numerous voting rights cases, said in a statement. In any case, I'm sticking with my original view: the OH law pushes right to the edge of what's legal under federal law, but it doesn't go beyond. Many states over the decades had erected to voting, sometimes targeting black voters.


OH takes a relatively aggressive approach to purging its rolls of voters, and the Supreme Court on Monday declared it's perfectly legal to do so.

Earlier this year I was pondering whether Ohio's voter removal law was legal.

The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio.

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At least twelve other conservative states said they would follow Ohio's lead if it prevailed, NBC reports. He's joined by four conservative colleagues, while all four liberal justices dissented.

Each state has a process for removing voters believed to have moved from its registration lists. But not everyone who moves notifies the post office, the state said.

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