Weekly Primer: SCOTUS Deals Voting Rights Advocates A Major Setback

Weekly Primer: SCOTUS Deals Voting Rights Advocates A Major Setback

U.S. States can target people who haven't cast ballots in a while in efforts to purge their voting rolls, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that has drawn wide attention amid stark partisan divisions and the approach of the 2018 elections.

This is a developing story. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls.

"We are now only 5 months from our next federal election and any rush now to remove a backlog of up to 589,000 voters that he has marked for purging will be extremely disruptive and unfair to OH voters", Clyde wrote.

Demos attorney Stuart Naifeh criticized the ruling.

A decision upholding Ohio's law will pave the way for more aggressive vote-purging efforts in OH and other states, said Dale Ho, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project.

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"It is undisputed that OH does not remove a registrant on change-of-residence grounds unless the registrant is sent and fails to mail back a return card and then fails to vote for an additional four years", Alito wrote. Anyone who doesn't respond or vote within the next four years is deregistered. The requirement is still on the books for state- and local-office elections - Arizona previously lost a Supreme Court fight to implement it in federal elections - but state election officials agreed last week to allow people who have previously provided proof of citizenship at the DMV to vote without being required to show...

Earlier this year I was pondering whether Ohio's voter removal law was legal.

The case arose when U.S. Navy veteran Larry Harmon went to his local polling place in OH to vote in 2015. Registration is canceled if there's no response to the notices, no votes are cast during the next four years and the voter's address isn't updated.

In a dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the 1993 law prohibits removing someone from voting rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote". Apparently I'm getting better at this Supreme Court prediction stuff! "The right to vote is not "use it or lose it", said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

For the five justices in the majority - Alito, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - the extent to which Ohio's practice hews to subsection (d) was enough. Ohio's policy would have barred more than 7,500 voters from casting a ballot in the presidential 2016 election had the appeals court not ruled against the state, according to court papers. "The only question before us", Alito made clear, is whether the practice "violates federal law".

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