Supreme Court Looks at Ohio’s Attempt to Purge Voter Rolls

Ohio is attempting to suppress voters by taking away their ability to vote if they miss a few elections and then fail to respond to a government notice from state officials.

According to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, this has hit the minority voters in Ohio’s major cities pretty hard.

“All of these impediments result in large numbers of people not voting in certain parts of the state,” Sotomayor said.

Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer have both expressed that they believe Ohio is right in their purge of the voter rolls. Kennedy said, “They want to protect the voter rolls from people who have moved and are voting in the wrong district.”

This doesn’t sound constitutional to me!

New York Times reports:

The case concerns Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but skipped the next one, saying he was unimpressed by the candidates. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014.

In 2015, Mr. Harmon did want to vote, against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. But his name had been stricken from the voting rolls.

Ohio is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls. After skipping a single federal election cycle, voters are sent a notice. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are purged from the rolls.

A few other states use similar approaches, but none of them move as fast.

League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center for Justice said, “Ohio is the only state that commences such a process based on the failure to vote in a single federal election cycle,” they added, “Literally every other state uses a different, and more voter-protective, practice.”

In a Supreme Court brief, Ohio officials said the notices protect the integrity of the voting rolls, as failing to vote suggests that voters may have moved.

State officials said they sent Mr. Harmon a notice in 2011 and that he did not respond. He said he never saw the notice.

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