Friday, 21 September, 2018

Supreme Court allows Ohio to purge voters for not voting

Supreme Court allows Ohio to purge voters for not voting Supreme Court allows Ohio to purge voters for not voting
Patty Aguilar | 11 June, 2018, 21:34

OH wanted to initiate a purge that sent notices to voters if they missed voting for just two years, arguing that it was the subsequent failure to respond to multiple notices that triggered their removal, not failure to vote. 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.

"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.

Breyer, in his dissent, pointed to statistics showing that a very small percentage of Americans - about four percent - move outside their county each year.

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 notice in question here warns recipients that unless they take the simple and easy step of mailing back the pre-addressed, postage prepaid card - or take the equally easy step of updating their information online - their names may be removed from the voting rolls if they do not vote during the next four years", he wrote.

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"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. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues.

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. "In my view, Ohio's program does just that". Currently Congress, the Justice Department, and a big majority of states are under the control of a Republican Party that has all but abandoned any interest in vindicating voting rights. "Marginalized populations remain extremely vulnerable to state-sanctioned voter suppression and disenfranchisement, and we will continue to fight to uphold the rights of eligible voters in the 2018 midterm elections, and beyond".

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 ruling revives the battleground state's process for managing its voter rolls after an appeals court invalidated it in 2016. He is running for lieutenant-governor this November on the Republican ticket headed by Mike DeWine, the current attorney general.

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