Are Republicans Violating Your Right Not to Vote?

Hannah Rogers
January 11, 2018

The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, is a challenge to Ohio's scheme for purging people who haven't voted recently from the voter rolls, a scheme the state implemented under pressure from conservative legal activists, including one who later joined the Trump voter fraud commission.

A decision upholding Ohio's law would pave the way for more aggressive vote purging efforts in OH and other states, while the law's elimination would "send a strong signal that the federal government and the National Voter Registration Act place important limits on what states can and can't do with their voter rolls", says Dale Ho, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project. As part of their process for maintaining voter rolls, county election officials in OH mail notices to registered voters who have not voted for two years.

The Army veteran said after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he came back to his home in the Village of Oak Harbor to find out he'd been kicked off the state's voter rolls. "And in these cases that they've brought or threatened to bring, they want counties or states to adopt that as a practice".

Suppose that in the last two years, you didn't show up to vote.

The case centers around a man who didn't vote in 2009 or 2011 and couldn't vote in 2015 because his name had been removed from the voter rolls.

The Trump administration supports the State of Ohio.

The government of the United States ought to be alarmed by what OH is attempting to do, but after decades of blocking various states' attempts to purge its voting rolls in like manner, the current Department of Justice has done a 180 and endorsed such purges. As Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project says at the ACLU's website, "The state assumes that a person who has not voted in two years may have moved across county lines and might need to be removed from the voter rolls".

"You have the right not to vote", said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who directed a volley of critical remarks at Ohio's attorney Eric Murphy. Or maybe you just forgot.

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OH has used voters' inactivity to trigger the removal process since 1994, although groups representing voters did not sue the Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, until 2016. The northeast OH man is featured in a video produced by the ACLU, another plaintiff in the case. In keeping with federal protections, the Supreme Court should send a strong message that states should not purge eligible residents and voters from their rolls. A bipartisan Congress considered the burdens on eligible voters and election administrators alike of having to reregister after being purged. Two of these DOJ alum - Adams and Hans von Spakovsky - went on to serve on Trump's commission.

Harmon, a plaintiff in the case before the high court, had simply chosen not to vote four years in a row - because he was unhappy with the candidates. Seventeen states, generally Republican, filed a brief on the other side. It tests whether Ohio's system of purging voters from its registration rolls violates federal law.

OH says its policy is legal, as voter inactivity is not the proximate process of removal.

"My goal has always been to make OH a place where it's easy to vote and hard to cheat", he said. Von Spakovsky, who sits on PILF's board, did not respond to TPM's inquiry.

As evident in a video posted on Twitter by a reporter for Cox Media Group, things got a bit heated outside the U.S. Supreme Court between Secretary of State Jon Husted and Joe Helle.

Andre Washington, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute in OH, echoed Sotomayor in a statement on Wednesday, arguing that "voter purges, like Ohio's supplemental process, disproportionately affect low income voters and voters of color who face countless barriers to casting their ballot".

In the friend-of-the-court brief, Adams filed supporting OH, he not only defended the process, but suggested that it should be the model elsewhere. I have an even harder time understanding those people who registered to vote but rarely if ever exercise their franchise.

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