The Supreme Court May Be Poised to Green-Light Mass Voter Purges

Supreme Court To Decide on Trump-Backed Voting Rights Rule That Could Disenfranchise Thousands of Americans

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Justice Stephen G. Breyer wondered, adding later, "I don't believe Congress would have passed a statute that would prevent a state from purging a voting roll of people who have died or have moved out of the state".

The federal law in question bars states from canceling any voter's registration simply for failure to vote. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said minorities and homeless people appear to be disproportionately kicked off the rolls. That's actually hard to say, particularly since Paul Smith did a creditable job of answering Breyer's concerns by showing evidence that most voters receiving notices like those mailed out by OH just toss them in the trash, making response or nonresponse irrelevant to the voter's actual residence.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide on a Trump-backed OH voting rights policy that has disenfranchised thousands of American voters by using lists to purge names of those who vote infrequently. Most of the states supporting OH have Republican governors or legislatures; most of those opposed are governed by Democrats.

If you live in OH, your failure to vote for two years would have triggered a process that could have resulted in your being purged from the state's voter rolls.

The Supreme Court has heard a bevy of voting rights cases since its controversial 2013 decision striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, which had forced mostly Southern states to clear changes in election laws with federal officials.

Justice Samuel Alito was the most vocal of the court's conservative justices, asking several questions about the "sole proximate cause" claim by OH that seemed created to press his colleagues on the court into agreeing that the notification process did not violate the NVRA. The law does allow removal of voters who fail to respond to notices about potential removal, and then fail to vote in two or more consecutive elections for federal office. Seven states are using a process similar to Ohio's, so millions of voters around the country are potentially affected by the Court's decision.

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The high-stakes legal fight surrounding Ohio's voter purge program is at the center of a larger battle over access to the ballot. At issue, Reuters says, "is whether Republican-drawn electoral districts in Wisconsin and Democratic-drawn districts in Maryland were fashioned to entrench the majority party in power in such an extreme way that they violated the constitutional rights of certain voters".

But in briefs before the Supreme Court, Ohio notes this process alone would not catch people who move without telling the postal service. The veteran says he does not remember receiving the notice, so he did not return it-and thus he was removed from the voter registration lists. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. She noted that voters who did not return the mailers were immediately put on the inactive list, meaning they would not receive the notices active voters received about their polling places and upcoming elections.

Late a year ago, President Donald Trump's administration reversed the government's position on a voter roll case before the U.S. Supreme Court and is now backing Ohio's method for purging voters. States face plenty of hurdles, including limited resources, to keeping accurate and updated voter records.

Civil rights groups contend that a decision for OH would have widespread implications because there is a "nationwide push to make it more hard and costly to vote", as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund told the court.

The Supreme Court's ruling, due by the end of June, could affect the ability to vote for thousands of people ahead of November's congressional elections.

The move is so unusual that [PFAW Foundation affiliate] People for the American Way submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for communications between Ohio State Solicitor Eric Murphy and John Gore, acting director of the civil rights division at the Justice Department. OH said he was sent a notice, but he says he didn't get it.

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Paul Smith, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing the challengers, said the state's method is flawed.

"Your argument really turns on the adequacy of the notice", Roberts said.

OH says its policy is legal, as voter inactivity is not the proximate process of removal.

Sotomayor pressed U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco on the change during oral arguments Wednesday, saying that solicitors general from Democratic and Republican presidents alike had argued positions at odds with the one the Justice Department was now taking.

Ohio's purge policy is the harshest in the nation.

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