Supreme Court Backs Ohio's Right to Purge Voting Rolls

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

"The Supreme Court has just given a stamp of approval to voter suppression", said Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress. At least six other states have similar laws, and the ruling could embolden others to follow suit and enact what critics say are aggressive purges of voter rolls.

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

Voters who then fail to respond to the notice and fail to vote within the next two years are removed from the rolls. "Instead, as expressly permitted by federal law, it removes registrants only when they have failed to vote and have failed to respond to a change-of-residence notice". "Thirty-eight other states (and the District of Columbia) have established practices that, unlike Ohio's supplemental process, use independent information that an individual has moved - not an individual's failure to vote - as a trigger to send a Section 8 (d)(2) notice".

Attorneys for the organizations that challenged Ohio's practice expressed disappointment.

The justices are rejecting, by a 5-4 vote Monday, arguments that the practice violates a federal law meant to increase the ranks of registered voters.

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), whose office created the Crosscheck program, could not demand proof of citizenship beyond what is required under federal law before someone is registered to vote.

Many states over the decades had erected barriers to voting, sometimes targeting black voters. At that point, the state sent an address-confirmation notice to those addresses requesting the voters to verify that their status hasn't changed (or that they are still alive!).

An analysis by Reuters found the policy favors Republicans in the state's largest metropolitan areas by removing voters from the rolls in Democratic leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave states more power to purge their voting databases of people who haven't cast ballots recently, upholding an OH system that could become a model for other Republican-controlled states.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the state of Ohio Monday - upholding its practice of purging people from registration rolls if they fail to vote. 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".

The Trump administration supported Ohio's voter purge. "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.

"This wrongly decided decision paves the way to mass disenfranchisement in OH and around the country", top House of Representatives Democrat Nancy Pelosi added.

The case arose when U.S. Navy veteran Larry Harmon went to his local polling place in OH to vote in 2015.

Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos - a left-wing group that led the legal team challenging OH - warned that his organization would continue to "fight back in the courts" if states view the ruling as a sign they can be reckless. Giving the green light to Ohio's purge process could have a ripple effect across the entire country.

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