Supreme Court Weighs Purge of Ohio Voting Rolls

California asks Supreme Court to tell Ohio ‘Do as I say not as I

They also point to other reasons people may have temporarily moved, but not changed their voting address, including military service.

A decision upholding Ohio's law would pave the way for more aggressive vote purging efforts in OH and other states, while the law's elimination would "send a strong signal that the federal government and the National Voter Registration Act place important limits on what states can and can't do with their voter rolls", says Dale Ho, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project.

Harmon, a plaintiff in the case before the high court, had simply chosen not to vote four years in a row - because he was unhappy with the candidates. Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that about 7,500 OH swing-state voters who would have been blocked from voting in the 2016 presidential election because of the rule.

The Trump administration reversed the position taken by the Obama administration and is backing Ohio's method for pruning its voter rolls.

Voting restrictions are an especially heated topic with the approach of November's mid-term elections, seen as a key test of public satisfaction with President Donald Trump that will determine whether his Republican party retains control of Congress.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the court's swing vote, said states are aiming to "protect the voter roll from people that have moved".

Voters cast ballots in OH on November 8, 2016.

According to Perez, there's a possibility that the Supreme Court will hand down a narrow opinion saying Ohio's process in particular, by starting the process after just one federal election cycle without a vote cast, is too unreliable.

Voting rights has become an important theme before the Supreme Court.

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The case looks at Ohio's "purge policy", in which the state used maintenance lists to bar people from voting in elections if they had not voted in a two-year period or contacted a state voting agency for a six-year period. Conservative groups like the American Civil Rights Union and Judicial Watch for years have been bullying local election officials with notices and in some cases lawsuits pushing them to purge their rolls. He told a county election board official by email that he is a US citizen born in OH and should be reinstated to the rolls.

"All voting cases now seem to take on this political flavor and each side now ascribes impure and partisan motives to the other". The lower courts said that Ohio's voter purge law violates the National Voter Registration Act, better known as the "Motor Voter law". In keeping with federal protections, the Supreme Court should send a strong message that states should not purge eligible residents and voters from their rolls.

Helle said he had no idea his name had been dropped and said he mailed in absentee ballots in some years and not others. Though he acknowledged non-voting is not a ideal proxy for change in residence, he suggested Ohio's policy generates useful data for elections officials. He was given a provisional ballot again, but was advised to check with the board of elections.

"I confess to doing that sometimes", Breyer said of putting mailings in the thrash.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled in favor of Mr. Harmon in 2016, saying that OH had violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by using the failure to vote as a "trigger" for sending the notices.

Sotomayor asked whether it was reasonable to interpret failure to vote as evidence that someone has moved, when it can be hard for people who are homeless, low income, or work long hours to make it to the polls.

Samuel Spital is the director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.

Ohio, backed by 17 other mostly Republican states, said it is complying with federal law.

Stuart Naifeh, who will argue the case for Harmon, notes that both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state have used this system in OH for decades. "It has the shortest timeline for removing people for non-voting", Naifeh said. The last time he voted, he said, was in 2008. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered.

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