Supreme Court upholds Ohio method of removing names from voter rolls

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RxCowboy

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From CNN:

Supreme Court upholds Ohio method of removing names from voter rolls
By Ariane de Vogue and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Updated 5:02 PM ET, Mon June 11, 2018

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Ohio's method of removing names from its voter rolls does not violate federal law.

The decision was 5-4.

Monday's ruling concerning the battleground state comes as the country gears up for midterm elections this fall. At least six other states have similar laws, and the ruling could embolden others to follow suit and enact what critics say are aggressive purges of voter rolls.

Ohio law allows the state to send address confirmation notices to voters who have not engaged in voter activity for two years. If a voter returns the notice through prepaid mail, or responds online, the information is updated. If the notice is ignored and the voter fails to update a registration over the next four years, the registration is canceled.

"We have no authority to second-guess Congress or to decide whether Ohio's supplemental process is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the conservative majority. "The only question before us is whether it violates federal law."

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the ruling is a "validation" of the state's law.

"Today's decision is a victory for election integrity, and a defeat for those who use the federal court system to make election law across the country," Husted said in a statement. "This decision is validation of Ohio's efforts to clean up the voter rolls and now with the blessing nation's highest court, it can serve as a model for other states to use."

A dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor and liberal justices argued that the court ignored a history of voter suppression that the National Voter Registration Act, commonly referred to as the motor voter law, was meant to address.

"Congress enacted the NVRA against the backdrop of substantial efforts by states to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters, including programs that purged eligible voters from registration lists because they failed to vote in prior elections," Sotomayor wrote.

"The Court errs in ignoring this history and distorting the statutory text ... ultimately sanctioning the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against," she added.

"The Supreme Court has just given a stamp of approval to voter suppression," said Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress. "Ohio's system of purging voters that choose not to participate in some elections unfairly silences hundreds of thousands of voters in the state, especially people of color and the homeless."

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said other states could follow Ohio's lead.

"Today's decision could provide a road map to other states to follow Ohio's lead and to adopt aggressive rules for culling their voter rolls going forward, even with respect to folks who are still living in Ohio and legally eligible to vote," Vladeck said.

Dale Ho, director of Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the vast majority of other states find ways to make sure voter lists are up to date by using tax records, or returned mail or Department of Motor Vehicles change of address forms to determine whether someone may have moved.

The case came about when Larry Harmon challenged the process arguing that he was removed from the rolls even though he had not moved, but rather had opted not to vote in 2009 and 2010. When he showed up at the polls in 2015 he was told his registration had been canceled. He claimed no recollection of receiving a confirmation notice from the state and he later brought suit along with two public interest groups called the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

In September 2016, a federal appeals court ruled against Ohio, saying that 7,515 ballots that had been struck could be cast in the that fall's election. The state appealed, saying the process targets people who have failed to respond to a notice, not those who have failed to vote.

Alito emphasized the ruling was based on whether or not Ohio's process violated federal law, not if it was good policy or not.

"What matters for present purposes is not whether the Ohio Legislature overestimated the correlation between nonvoting and moving or whether it reached a wise policy judgment about when return cards should be sent," he wrote.

The Trump administration, reversing positions from the Obama administration, agreed with Ohio's interpretation of the federal law.

The "NVRA does not prohibit a state from using nonvoting" as the basis of sending an address-verification notice, administration lawyers argued in court briefs.
 

steross

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Am I reading this correctly?
Is the Supreme Court trying to say that the only thing they can decide is if the policy breaks federal law?
How strange.
 
Jul 7, 2004
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#4
Am I reading this correctly?
Is the Supreme Court trying to say that the only thing they can decide is if the policy breaks federal law?
How strange.

It affirms that no federal law was broken when Ohio implemented this plan to keep the voter roles up to date. Voter registration is a State function and States are free to do what they want if no federal laws are broken. Good decision now I hope they will decide that voter ID laws can be applied. We need to insure citizens of foreign countries are not voting which is a threat to our democracy.
 

RxCowboy

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Am I reading this correctly?
Is the Supreme Court trying to say that the only thing they can decide is if the policy breaks federal law?
How strange.
Imagine a branch of the government sticking to its constitutional limits and doing its job. It boggles the mind.

If the watch is broken, and isn't illegal, send it back to the watchmaker. Do you hear that Roberts?
 

oks10

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#7
Also bad for Republicans who fail to return their notices and in the next major election find they can't vote. They're treated the same as dead voters.
Or they'll just return the form (or go online) and keep their registration current every two years if they're not being active... Just like people do with car tags literally every year (unless they're violating state law by not keeping their tags current).
 

steross

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Also bad for Republicans who fail to return their notices and in the next major election find they can't vote. They're treated the same as dead voters.
Or they'll just return the form (or go online) and keep their registration current every two years if they're not being active... Just like people do with car tags literally every year (unless they're violating state law by not keeping their tags current).
I do sometimes wonder if all the attempts to make it super easy to vote are counterproductive.

People tend to value things that take effort and have value. Cheapen it and it just seems cheap.

I am against laws/rules that actually make it difficult for poor people. But, how poor would you have to be to not be able to update an address every two years? If we are saying the power of having a vote is so small that an every two-year address update is too much effort to keep it, how pathetic are we calling the right to vote?
 

wrenhal

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So wait... Don't vote at all for 2 years, then ignore address verification for 4 years if you live at the same address and get purged from the rolls... That's "aggressive"??? Guess what, pretty much everyone in Ohio that cares about voting should now be fully aware of the requirements and if they haven't voted recently should go verify their eligibility at their local election board. Democrats should be singing the praises of this as it will get people that want to vote off their butts to register or verify periodically. And if you've moved since you last voted and didn't register in your new district or update your address if in the same district, then why should you be on the rolls?
 

wrenhal

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#10
I do sometimes wonder if all the attempts to make it super easy to vote are counterproductive.

People tend to value things that take effort and have value. Cheapen it and it just seems cheap.

I am against laws/rules that actually make it difficult for poor people. But, how poor would you have to be to not be able to update an address every two years? If we are saying the power of having a vote is so small that an every two-year address update is too much effort to keep it, how pathetic are we calling the right to vote?
I remember a video where a guy went and asked white liberals what they thought about voter ID. Pretty much everyone said it made it hard for poor black folk (oh sorry, minorities) to vote. Then they went and showed the video to black people in a "poor" neighborhood and pretty much everyone of them was either offended or at least dumbfounded. Asked whether they knew how to get to a DMV or did they have an ID already and internet access, all of them answered affirmative and once again were confused as to how this was something that was supposed to be hard on them.
 

oks10

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#11
I do sometimes wonder if all the attempts to make it super easy to vote are counterproductive.

People tend to value things that take effort and have value. Cheapen it and it just seems cheap.

I am against laws/rules that actually make it difficult for poor people. But, how poor would you have to be to not be able to update an address every two years? If we are saying the power of having a vote is so small that an every two-year address update is too much effort to keep it, how pathetic are we calling the right to vote?
I can't imagine being poor enough that you can't even afford a pen to check "yes" and send back a postage paid form...
 

Cimarron

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#12
I do sometimes wonder if all the attempts to make it super easy to vote are counterproductive.

People tend to value things that take effort and have value. Cheapen it and it just seems cheap.

I am against laws/rules that actually make it difficult for poor people. But, how poor would you have to be to not be able to update an address every two years? If we are saying the power of having a vote is so small that an every two-year address update is too much effort to keep it, how pathetic are we calling the right to vote?
It's perhaps easier for the poor to register than anyone else.


Register to Vote in Person
  • The department of motor vehicles.
  • Armed services recruitment centers.
  • State and county public assistance offices (SNAP/food stamps, WIC, services for the disabled), where you may fill out and submit a National Mail Voter Registration Form.
https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
 

CowboyOrangeFan

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People like to compare stuff like this with the guy in whatever southern state that goes around and tries to verify voter rolls in mostly poor black neighborhoods and then petitions to purge them. They just aren't the same. Hell, I believe I'm registered to vote in 3 different precincts in two states. I know they need to clean up my data.

What most irritates me about this is that it was a 5-4 decision. This just seems like one of those issues where the law is the law. Not as much wiggle room here, and there shouldn't be any party lines in the actual decision. Then again I'm not a lawyer so what do I know?
 

CocoCincinnati

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#14
Two minor problems. First, two years seems awfully quick, a lot of people only vote in presidential elections, not that I agree with that level of apathy but it is what it is. I would prefer a period of 5 years instead of 2.

Secondly and along those same lines, this seems like quite an expense, obviously if the citizens of Ohio are OK paying the cost then that's all that matters, but I can say if Oklahoma tries to pass such a law I would want to know first where the money was coming from and even then, a period of 5 years instead of 2 would cut those costs quite a bit.

All that being said, I think voter fraud is a huge problem and will only continue to get worse as control of the federal behemoth becomes increasingly lucrative, so I am all for taking steps to prevent it.
 

wrenhal

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Aug 11, 2011
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#15
Two minor problems. First, two years seems awfully quick, a lot of people only vote in presidential elections, not that I agree with that level of apathy but it is what it is. I would prefer a period of 5 years instead of 2.

Secondly and along those same lines, this seems like quite an expense, obviously if the citizens of Ohio are OK paying the cost then that's all that matters, but I can say if Oklahoma tries to pass such a law I would want to know first where the money was coming from and even then, a period of 5 years instead of 2 would cut those costs quite a bit.

All that being said, I think voter fraud is a huge problem and will only continue to get worse as control of the federal behemoth becomes increasingly lucrative, so I am all for taking steps to prevent it.
It's two years before they get their notice and then they have four years from that to re-register, vote, or take some kind of actio. So that is 6 total before they are removed.

Sent from my Moto G Play using Tapatalk
 
Oct 30, 2007
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#16
People like to compare stuff like this with the guy in whatever southern state that goes around and tries to verify voter rolls in mostly poor black neighborhoods and then petitions to purge them. They just aren't the same. Hell, I believe I'm registered to vote in 3 different precincts in two states. I know they need to clean up my data.

What most irritates me about this is that it was a 5-4 decision. This just seems like one of those issues where the law is the law. Not as much wiggle room here, and there shouldn't be any party lines in the actual decision. Then again I'm not a lawyer so what do I know?
I'm the exact same way. It drives me crazy to see 5-4 rulings or even 6-3 rulings where it's clear what the ruling should be according to the law. In a perfect worlds, you would have no idea if judges were liberal or conservative. They would simply do their appointed job of interpreting the law.

Maybe the best thing to come out of the Trump presidency so far is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch. He sure seems like he sets his political leanings aside to do his job properly.