States can purge voters who don't vote or respond to warnings

ImagePeople voted in Ohio's primary election in Cincinnati last

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen after the court revived Ohio's contentious policy of purging infrequent voters from its registration rolls, overturning a lower court ruling that Ohio's policy violated the National Voter Registration Act, in Washington, U.S., June 11, 2018.

Harmon learned that, although he had lived in the same place for more than 16 years, he had been removed from the voter rolls because he had not voted in 2009 and 2010; he also had not responded - because he said he didn't remember receiving it - to a notice that the state elections board had sent him in 2011 to confirm his eligibility. OH claims that its practices just keep voter rolls up to date, and are consistent with federal law; the challengers argue that the state's purges violate federal law and risk disenfranchising eligible voters.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered OH the news that it is allowed to purge thousands of stagnant voters from the state registration records.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, with two dissents: one from Justice Stephen Breyer, for himself and the three other liberal justices, and one from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. As the New York Times explains, federal law forbids removing people from registration rolls because of a failure to vote, but it gives state officials leeway to drop voters who they think have moved.

Partisan fights over ballot access are being fought across the country. "Ohio simply treats the failure to return a notice and the failure to vote as evidence that a registrant has moved, not as a ground for removal".

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The Ohio program follows this to the letter.
OH wanted to initiate a purge that sent notices to voters if they missed voting for just two years, arguing that it was the subsequent failure to respond to multiple notices that triggered their removal, not failure to vote.

While lawyers for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said the procedure is needed to remove dead people from the rolls and resolve the cases of voters who have multiple registrations, the challengers argued it might be more appropriate to use driver's license and post office change-of-address information, non-forwardable mail, and databases that show whether voters have moved. The court's decision essentially endorses "the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", Sotomayor wrote. "Ohio's process is accordingly lawful". In any case, I'm sticking with my original view: the OH law pushes right to the edge of what's legal under federal law, but it doesn't go beyond.

Husted called the decision "a victory for electoral integrity".

Said Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio: "Today's decision is a blow, not just to Ohio voters, but to the democratic process".

The Trump administration supported Ohio's voter purge.

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