SCOTUS Narrowly Upholds Ohio’s Purge Of Voter Rolls

NBC News reports:

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court gave Ohio a victory Monday in a fight over the state’s method for removing people from the voter rolls, a practice that civil rights groups said discourages minority turnout.

At least a dozen other politically conservative states said they would adopt a similar practice if Ohio prevailed, as a way of keeping their voter registration lists accurate and up to date.

Prof. Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, predicted that a win for Ohio would escalate voting wars between the political parties. “You’ll see more red states making it easier to drop people from the voter registration rolls,” he said.

The New York Times reports:

The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but did not vote in 2012, saying he was unimpressed by the candidates. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014.

But in 2015, Mr. Harmon did want to vote against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and found that his name had been stricken from the voting rolls. Federal laws prohibit states from removing people from voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But they allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice.

The central question in the case was whether a failure to vote could be the reason to send out the notice. 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.