Supreme Court to look at Ohio's voter-removal laws

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

His case is one of thousands in OH, where arguments over the state law will come before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

Helle feels that people should have the right not to vote without the risk of losing their right to vote. Some 17 states have joined a brief in support of Ohio's scheme, led by Georgia which has a similar regimen and has emerged as a voting rights battleground as Democrats seek to make electoral gains there.

He said Ohio's process targets lower-income voters and those of color and penalizes "voters who may already face obstacles in exercising the right to vote", and that "it disproportionately harms the most vulnerable voters". Adams was listed of counsel on a 2012 lawsuit pushing OH to more aggressively purge its voter rolls. This law also placed limits on how states could remove voters from the rolls once they registered. But even people whose lack of participation can be attributed to apathy should be allowed to cast a ballot if they're still eligible. The panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 7,515 ballots that had been struck could be cast in the last election.

The case looks at Ohio's "purge policy", in which the state used maintenance lists to bar people from voting in elections if they had not voted in a two-year period or contacted a state voting agency for a six-year period. OH argues this helps ensure election security. He told a county election board official by email that he is a US citizen born in OH and should be reinstated to the rolls.

"A vote to confirm Thomas Farr to serve on the federal bench would be a vote to further entrench white supremacy in the United States", said Todd A. Cox, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund policy director.

Under current law, if someone has not voted in two years, that triggers a process that could eventually kick them off the rolls.

"When I was in the Army, I didn't have time to worry about voting at home or absentee ballots, anything of that sort because I was an airborne infantryman, a parachutist, war fighter", Helle said. And when OH sends out mailings to voters asking them to confirm whether or not they've moved, about 80 percent of those who are sent these mailings never respond to them.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the Supreme Court will be gulled by the GOP's argument that the letter of the law-what they say is a contradiction in the NVRA's voter purge protocols-lets them execute partisan purges. "Choosing not to vote is as important as choosing to vote".

Heather C. McGhee, who heads Demos, one of the public policy groups that challenged Ohio's law, said she was "very pleased" with how the arguments went, and believes a majority of the court will agree with her group that Ohio's law should be changed. The Trump administration filed a brief in support of the OH "use it or lose it" voting policy previous year in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, which will be heard in the nation's top court on Wednesday. This is why the organization where we work, the LDF, filed an amicus brief opposing Ohio's purge process and highlighting DOJ's lack of a meaningful basis for its reversal in position.

The policy was blocked by a federal district court sitting in OH in April 2016 for violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

"On the other hand, there are 40-plus states that don't do this, and many of them may start to do this for political reasons", Morrison said.

To be clear, states may properly remove voters who have died or moved to another state to maintain updated voter rolls. The problem, the state said, is that some people move without notifying the post office. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. The NVRA said no voter could be purged in the four years after they register. "What we are doing is enforcing the law", said Bradley Schlozman, who supervised the U.S. Justice Department's voting section under Republican former President George W. Bush.

The case centers around a man who didn't vote in 2009 or 2011 and couldn't vote in 2015 because his name had been removed from the voter rolls.

OH seems to be splitting hairs: arguing that it's not removing the names of people who didn't vote; it's removing the names of people who didn't respond to a mailer after not voting. But just because he can vote in every election, doesn't mean he wants to.

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