What the Supreme Court Voter Purge Ruling Means

Protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court in January to show opposition to Ohio's policy for purging voter

Protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court in January to show opposition to Ohio's policy for purging voter

"A state violates the failure-to-vote clause only if it removes registrants for no reason other than their failure to vote", Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion, argued. All in all, the procedures meant someone who didn't vote for six years and who threw out the notices could be removed from the rolls. The ACLU took the state to court and had the Sixth Circuit rule that the state's process of cleaning the voter rolls violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which prohibits states from purging names from the voter registration list exclusively because of the failure to vote and requires the state to notify the individual of the potential change in status before rendering him or her inactive. Once inactive, a voter can still vote, simply by showing up on election day or requesting a mail ballot.

The case became a proxy for the highly partisan fight over the country's election rules.

"This case is a stark reminder that the Trump administration wants to turn back the clock on voting rights", the ACLU tweeted. He claimed no recollection of receiving a confirmation notice from the state and he later brought suit along with two public interest groups called the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Indeed, the majority stressed, not only "are States allowed to remove registrants who satisfy these requirements, but federal law makes this removal mandatory".

But the Supreme Court majority said the appeals court was wrong because Ohio's process does not conflict with federal directives.

The majority rejected the silly argument that because OH uses the absence of "voter activity" to trigger the removal process, it violates the requirement that a state purge "shall not result in the removal of the name of any person.by reason of the person's failure to vote".

Nineteen states use voter inactivity in the process of purging their databases, though only a handful make non-voting as central as OH does.

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In his own statement, Husted said he hoped the ruling would give other states a path toward purging duplicate or obsolete registrations.

The US Supreme Court sided with the OH in a case over whether or not the state has the right to cull voters from registers if they go too long without casting a ballot.

Twelve states, generally led by Democrats, filed a brief supporting Mr. Harmon. Thomas noted that even if the respondents were correct about their statutory interpretation, such a statute preventing states from cleaning its voter rolls couldn't be constitutional.

In 2015, more than 40,600 Cuyahoga County voters were removed under the process.

Florida is one of those 38 states.

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). Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that "today's decision empowers OH to further strip away the right to vote for thousands of Ohioans, threatening the integrity of our state's election process".

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Voting rights advocates are furious about the decision, saying on Monday that it disenfranchises voters.

"We are anxious that would-be vote suppressors will read too much into it and conclude that aggressive purges or unreasonable purges would be tolerated", Perez said in an interview. "This ruling is a setback for voting rights, but it is not a green light to engage in wholesale purges of eligible voters without notice". Since 2013, eight states, both red and blue, have left the Crosscheck program.

"The right to vote is the most sacred right we have as citizens". If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.

Tennessee has eliminated the practice of purging voters based on a lapse in voting history.

"Today's decision is a victory for election integrity, and a defeat for those who use the federal court system to make election law across the country", Husted said.

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