Opinion analysis: Justices rule for OH in voter-registration dispute

Opinion analysis: Justices rule for OH in voter-registration dispute

All states are required to periodically comb the voter rolls for people who may have moved to another state - a process known as list maintenance. 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.

The court's dissenters said OH violates a prohibition in federal law against removing voters simply because they are exercising their right not to vote.

That act prevents states from canceling voter registrations exclusively because those registered do not show up to vote. Judge Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said those backing Harmon were doing so based on policy preferences, not the law. But partisan fights over ballot access are playing out across the country.

"This case is a stark reminder that the Trump administration wants to turn back the clock on voting rights", the ACLU tweeted.

What's more, they said, they anxious that the ruling now gives other states a blueprint from which to conduct their own voter purges.

The case was brought by Larry Harmon, an OH software engineer, who showed up to vote and found his name wasn't on the register. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes from minorities and poorer people who tend to vote for Democrats.

It is the kind of 5-4 decision that shows why it mattered that Mitch McConnell kept Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court so that GOP appointee Neil Gorsuch was able to occupy Antonin Scalia's seat.

"I am pleased that the United States Supreme Court agreed that OH was following federal law in maintaining accurate voter rolls", he said in a statement. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger processes that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls.

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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.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the Supreme Court's decision regarding voter registration Monday; saying the ruling advances the Trump administration's agenda of "disenfranchising" Americans across the country.

And thus Ohio's program for maintaining voter rolls is legal.

The federal statute at issue in Husted, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), specifically contemplates some kind of "notify, wait, and purge" process like the one used in Ohio. Last year, Richardson extended the state's inactive voter deadline from five years to 10, a move that kept more than 60,000 residents from being classified as inactive. Utah removed 76,000 voters in 2012 - including 60,000 in Salt Lake County alone, the one Democratic bastion in an otherwise deeply conservative state.

"Democracy suffers when laws make it harder for U.S. Citizens to vote".

Husted concerns a process OH uses to identify voters who may have changed addresses, and to purge them from the voter rolls. And Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing only for herself, warned that those who support voting rights should be vigilant in the wake of the court's decision.

Attorneys for the organizations that challenged Ohio's practice expressed disappointment. "Ohio's system of purging voters that choose not to participate in some elections unfairly silences hundreds of thousands of voters in the state, especially people of color and the homeless".