Supreme Court Upholds Ohio Rules for Canceling Voter Registration

File All four liberals on the Supreme Court dissented in Monday's 5-4 case upholding Ohio's method of removing voters from its rolls. Sonia Sotomayor went further and focused on something else the impact the ruling will have on minority voters

File All four liberals on the Supreme Court dissented in Monday's 5-4 case upholding Ohio's method of removing voters from its rolls. Sonia Sotomayor went further and focused on something else the impact the ruling will have on minority voters

Harmon learned that, although he had lived in the same place for more than 16 years, he had been removed from the voter rolls because he had not voted in 2009 and 2010; he also had not responded - because he said he didn't remember receiving it - to a notice that the state elections board had sent him in 2011 to confirm his eligibility.

Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and remain eligible.

"Ohio removes the registrants at issue on a permissible ground: change of residence", said the 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito.

The four dissenters (with Stephen Breyer writing the main dissent) rejected the idea that a use-it-or-lose-it approach to voting rights is acceptable under current federal law.

Voters purged from registration rolls who sued to challenge the policy in the Republican-governed state said the practice illegally erased thousands of voters from registration rolls and disproportionately impacted racial minorities and poor people who tend to back Democratic candidates. The second law, the 2002 Help America Vote Act, directed the states to maintain a system to cull ineligible voters from their lists. But not everyone who moves notifies the post office, the state said.

"The days of trying to hamstring maintenance responsibilities in the absence of federal guidance are over", J. Christian Adams - a member of President Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission - said in a statement. If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.


Aside from showing the importance of who does and does not get confirmed for the Supreme Court, the decision illustrates the weakness of federal voting-rights laws.

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".

The ruling revives the battleground state's process for managing its voter rolls after an appeals court invalidated it in 2016.

Civil rights groups said the court should be focused on making it easier for people to vote, not allowing states to put up roadblocks to casting ballots. As part of the lawsuit, a judge a year ago ordered the state to count 7,515 ballots cast by people whose names had been removed from the voter rolls.

After the last presidential election, the department switched sides in the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980.

Husted called the decision "a victory for electoral integrity".

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.