US Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over the Rights of Ohio's Inactive Voters

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In 2015, more than 40,000 voters were purged from the rolls in Cuyahoga County alone, which encompasses the city of Cleveland. "The inevitable result is that OH erroneously purges voters who haven't moved, who remain eligible to vote, but who may end up being disenfranchised".

"It's important for us to keep up-to-date, accurate voter logs", said Aaron Sellers, a spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections in Ohio's largest county. And the justification used is nearly always to eliminate voter fraud.

Helle, 31, describes himself as a "red-state Democrat" and did not vote for President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Voting rights advocates fear that a ruling in favor of Ohio's system will be used by voter fraud alarmists to pressure other states to more aggressively kick voters off the rolls. The law says a state can not remove a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote". "From approving racially discriminatory materials to intimidate Black voters on behalf of the Jesse Helms for Senate Campaign, to fiercely fighting for laws that disenfranchise and weaken opportunities for people of color, Farr's record is clear".

Specifically, the DOJ correctly interpreted the NVRA and HAVA to prohibit states from triggering a voter purge based on voting inactivity. The 1993 act asks states to maintain voter lists by making a reasonable effort to remove the names of those who died or moved out of state. "No doubt RNC lawyers would advise against taking these steps, at least for a while, to forestall the DNC from running back to court seeking to have the consent decree reinstated". At issue is whether Republican-drawn electoral districts in Wisconsin and Democratic-drawn districts in Maryland were fashioned to entrench the majority party in power in such an extreme way that they violated the constitutional rights of certain voters. Ohio Secretary of State Jon A. Husted appealed the lower court's decision to the Supreme Court, which took the case in May, 2017.

But even if he hadn't voted, Helle said opting not to cast a ballot should be a voter's choice and shouldn't be penalized.

The policy was blocked by a federal district court sitting in OH in April 2016 for violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The NVRA said no voter could be purged in the four years after they register. It says it sends voters a card when they're inactive for two years, but the actual removal takes six years. "We need a little help from the voter", Husted said.

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OH has a controversial practice of removing voters from the rolls who have not cast ballots in years, and an investigation by the Cincinnati Enquirer/USA Today Network found the practice of deleting and tracking voters was not uniform across Ohio's 88 counties. Ohio's Republican Attorney General's office defended him, arguing the law was a mess. Why? But because of an OH law that removes inactive voters off the rolls, that registration had been canceled and his vote this time would not be counted.

"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. They are sent a notice, the administration said in its Supreme Court brief, but only removed if "they fail to respond and fail to vote" in the elections that follow the notice.

According to The Nation, from 2011 to 2016, OH - a state with more than 11 million residents - purged 840,000 voters from its voter rolls for such voting inactivity.

Husted's purges have unabashedly favored the GOP. OH purged "at least" 144,000 voters in these counties since 2012, it reported. "In the heavily African-American neighborhoods near downtown, more than 10 percent of registered voters have been removed due to inactivity since 2012". 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.

Helle, now the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, is among thousands of state residents with tales of being removed from Ohio's rolls because they didn't vote in some elections.

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.