Supreme Court upholds Ohio voting policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court has upheld an Ohio voting process that removes voters from the registration rolls after six years of inactivity.

The justices voted 5-4 in Husted v. A Philip Randolph Institute, and released their ruling Monday morning.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of Ohio, reacted favorably to the decision.

“Today’s decision is a victory for election integrity, and a defeat for those who use the federal court system to make election law across the country,” Husted said. “This decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls and now with the blessing nation’s highest court, it can serve as a model for other states to use.”

DeWine said, “I am pleased that the United States Supreme Court agreed that Ohio was following federal law in maintaining accurate voter rolls. I congratulate our attorneys throughout this case for their exceptional work in documenting how this process, used by Democrat and Republican secretaries of state, is indeed lawful.”

Richard Cordray, who is running against DeWine in the election also released a statement.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to continue to allow aggressive voter roll purges here in Ohio is not unexpected,” Cordray said. “But saying that something can be done is not the same as saying it should be done.The right to vote is vital to our democracy. We need to focus on making the right to vote more accessible to Ohioans, not on taking it away. This November, Ohioans have to decide if they want four more years of Jon Husted and Mike DeWine’s assault on voting rights. I for one, have had enough.”

The process that was in question sends a postage prepaid card to a voter who has not voted for two years, asking that person to verify that they still reside at the address where they are registered. If the person in question does not return the card and does not vote in any election over the next four years, that person is removed from voter registration rolls.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion of the court, with Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joining. Alito wrote that the process does not violate the failure to vote clause or any part of the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA), created in 1993.

Alito wrote, “Ohio simply treats the failure to return a notice and the failure to vote as evidence that a registrant has moved, not as a ground for removal. And in doing this, Ohio simply follows federal law.”

Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor each wrote dissenting opinions, Justice Elena Kagen and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s dissention.

Breyer wrote:

“These provisions tend to deny, not to support, the majority’s suggestion that somehow sending a ‘last chance’ notice is itself a way (other than nonvoting) to identify someone who has likely moved. I concede that some individuals who have, in fact, moved do, in fact, send a return card back to the State making clear that they have moved. And some registrants do send back a card saying that they have not moved. Thus, the Confirmation Procedure will sometimes help provide confirmation of what the initial identification procedure is supposed to accomplish: finding registrants who have previously moved. But more often than not the State fails to receive anything back from the registrant, and the fact the State hears nothing from the registrant essentially proves nothing at all.”

In Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion she objected to the notion that just because a person missed one presidential election and two midterms, doesn’t mean they actually moved.

“This purge program burdens the rights of eligible voters,” she wrote. “At best, purged voters are forced to ‘needlessly reregister’ if they decide to vote in a subsequent election; at worst they are prevented from voting at all because they never receive information about when and where elections are taking place.”

Sotomayor continued to explain the history of voter suppression.

“Our democracy rests on the ability of all individuals, regardless of race, income or status to exercise their right to vote,” she wrote. “The majority of states have found ways to maintain accurate voter rolls without initiating removal processes based solely on an individuals failure to vote. Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.