Supreme Court to rule on states' voter purges

Ohio's policy of deleting voter registrations of inactive voters will be the subject of an upcoming Supreme Court case, the justices announced Tuesday.
By Mark Schwartz | May 31, 2017
Ohio's policy of deleting voter registrations of inactive voters will be the subject of an upcoming Supreme Court case, the justices announced Tuesday.

Ohio law allows boards of elections to purge their registries of any voters who have not voted for four in a row. More than a million Ohioan voters were removed from the registries last year. Another million voters were deleted from 2011 to 2015. If a voter misses just one election, the voter receives a notice requiring confirmation that his or her information is still up-to-date. That voter must respond to the notice by the next election cycleeither by voting or by submitting a written address confirmationor else be removed from the registry.

The practice occurs throughout the state, but it is by no means uniformly enforced. Independent investigations have found that low-income, black voters were disproportionately purged, and that in many major cities, voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods were removed at twice the rate of voters in Republican-leaning ones.

A federal court had ruled against the practice in September and ordered the state to reenroll the purged voters, but state officials balked. They argue that the purging is necessary to clear the registries of voters who have died or moved to other jurisdictions.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute joined with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and private resident Larry Harmon in bringing the suit. Harmon was removed from the registry for not casting a ballot in the 2012 and 2014 elections. The court will hear their case in its next term.

 

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