Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

How the Supreme Court Could Empower the GOP Election Hijacking Crew

How the Supreme Court Could Empower the GOP Election Hijacking Crew

If Ohio loses this case, it and more than a dozen other states with similar processes face the prospect of voter rolls bloated with people who have died or are long gone from the state. But the federal law "says you can't use failure to vote as the reason for purging somebody from the rolls". According to a Reuters analysis, OH has purged at least 144,000 voters in the state's three largest counties-home to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati-since the 2012 election, with voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods twice as likely to be removed as those in Republican-leaning ones.

At the circuit level, the United States agreed with the challengers that Ohio's voter purge process violates federal law because it is triggered exclusively by a citizen not voting.

You're, again, fooling yourself if you think the Supreme Court case will be anything more than a vote based on which outcomes the Justices favor.

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 opponents say the 1993 National Voter Registration Act prohibits using voting inactivity to trigger purges and that OH purges registered voters who are still eligible to vote. An appeals court in 2016 sided with him and ruled Ohio's practice illegal. Politically, the issue of voter list management has become a partisan one, with Republicans claiming that threats of voter fraud necessitate more stringent cleaning of voter rolls, while Democrats argue that such tactics serve to suppress voter participation.

On the heels of President Donald J. Trump dissolution of his controversial voter fraud commission, in a statement, his administration wrote that the NVRA "does not prohibit a state from using nonvoting" as the basis to send an address-verification notice, government lawyers argued in briefs. Basically, Ohio voters who don't vote in a two-year period can eventually be removed from registration rolls, depending on certain circumstances.

At issue is a method OH uses to identify people who have moved and are no longer eligible to vote. Both laws also allow states to send confirmation notices to voters that may have moved. That decision triggered a notice from the state's elections board in June 2011 to confirm he was still eligible to vote. The practice erroneously presumes that registrants' failure to vote over a two-year period means that they have moved.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor brought up the right of people not to vote in an election, if they chose to do so, as a reason to take away their voter registration.

Sotomayor also sharply questioned the Trump administration's decision to reverse the Obama Justice Department's opposition to Ohio's program.

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Helle shared his concerns and personal experience having been subject to the state's voter purge policy during a news conference in Columbus on Tuesday.

A decision for OH would have widespread implications because it would fuel a broader effort to make it more hard and costly to vote, Ohio's opponents said. In 2016, more than 7,500 voters showed up at the polls and found their names missing, forcing them to vote a provisional ballot, OH elections officials said.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard a dispute in OH about who can stay on an official list of registered votes.

"There might be surveys about how many people throw everything in the wastebasket", Breyer said.

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.

"This process has worked very well in OH under Democratic and Republican administrations". He later returned to the topic, suggesting that Smith's argument turns on the adequacy of the notice that the state provides to voters, rather than whether someone has shown up to vote.

Outside the court following the argument, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, defended the state's election system.

Ohio State University law professor Daniel Tokaji, co-counsel in the case, says there are ways for Ohio to keep it's voter rolls clean. But a case coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday explores whether some states are aggressively purging voter rolls in a way that disenfranchises thousands of voters.

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