Opinion analysis: Justices rule for OH in voter-registration dispute

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

Supreme Court decides case on purging voter registration rolls

If they do not respond and do not vote over the following four years, they are removed from the rolls.

In delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Samuel Alito said the law does not violate that clause or any other provision of the NRVA.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor wrote dissents, with Justice Sotomayor accusing the majority of trampling on the right to vote, saying she feared it would be used against minorities.

The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a U.S. Postal Service list of people who have reported a change of address. Anyone who doesn't respond or vote within the next four years is deregistered. All states update their registers by cutting people who have moved or died, but this case centered on whether missing a few votes was sufficient grounds to drop someone.

At least a dozen other politically conservative states said they would adopt a similar practice if OH prevailed, as a way of keeping their voter registration lists accurate and up to date. He's joined by four conservative colleagues, while all four liberal justices dissented.

"Voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods", the study found. "Neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit the hardest". If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.

According to Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, however, the decision not only "gets the law wrong", but also "sends the wrong message to state officials".

After the last presidential election, the department switched sides in the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980.

She said the majority's opinion "entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate".

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who's running as the Republican candidate for governor, issued a statement applauding the Supreme Court's decision for showing "that Ohio was following federal law in maintaining accurate voter rolls".

OH officials were appealing the decision of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had sided with OH resident Larry Harmon, a veteran and computer consultant who was purged from the polls in the state process, and the other two groups. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that "today's decision empowers OH to further strip away the right to vote for thousands of Ohioans, threatening the integrity of our state's election process". A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.

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