"The reason they're purging them is they want to protect the voter roll from people that ... have moved and they're voting in the wrong district".
In a case from OH, opponents of the practice called it a violation of a federal law that was meant to increase the ranks of registered voters. But is that a reasonable conclusion to draw, she asked, when it has a disproportionate effect on areas with large groups of minorities, poor people and the homeless?
OH is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls.
The justices are hearing argument Wednesday in a case from Republican-led OH, one of a handful of states that use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from voter rolls. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesdayin the disputed practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans.
As Ari Berman wrote in The Nation after the Court took the case, "From 2011 to 2016, OH purged 2 million voters from the rolls-1.2 million for infrequent voting-more than any other state". The Ohio voting rights decision will be one of several voting rights cases heard by the Supreme Court during this term.
Sotomayor pressed Murphy on the consequences the OH process would have, particularly on poor and minority populations.
The National Voter Registration Act, also known as the Motor Voter Law, bans election officials from removing people from voter rolls over a failure to vote. Finally, defendants argue that prohibiting Ohio's specific trigger would be an infringement on federalism and the right of states to determine their own triggers within the boundaries of federal law.
"When I was in the Army, I didn't have time to worry about voting at home or absentee ballots, anything of that sort because I was an airborne infantryman, a parachutist, war fighter", Helle said.
January is shaping up to be a big month for Republican vote suppressors-and not in a good way for anyone who believes American politics benefit when more people vote. If they do not respond, voters are given an additional four years to cast a ballot.
U.S. Supreme Court justices suggested they may give states broader latitude to purge their voting databases of people who might have moved, as the court heard arguments Wednesday in an OH case that could shape who gets to cast ballots in the November election.
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Ineligible voters in OH are identified by one of two ways: using the National Change of Address database, or through the "supplementary process".
That issue formed the majority of Smith's time at the lectern, with Smith arguing that the state not receiving the notice back tells "nothing" about whether the person moved. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are removed from the rolls. Many of them arrived at the polls to vote only to learn that they were no longer registered.
But U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco - whose office changed sides in the case after Trump was elected - said OH has a right to streamline "over-inflated" and "bloated" voter registration rolls. There's a 24-year history of solicitor generals under presidents of both political parties taking a position contrary to yours, she said. "It's quite unusual your office would change its position so dramatically". "How can we read this statute", Sotomayor continued, "to permit you to begin a process of disenfranchising exclusively on the basis" of someone's failure to vote, with no evidence that the voter has actually moved?
A decision for OH would have widespread implications because it would fuel a broader effort to make it more hard and costly to vote, Ohio's opponents said.
The plaintiffs won an appeals court ruling that resulted in more than 7,500 ballots cast by voters who'd been removed must be counted in the 2016 presidential election.
As elections, whether local, state, or national, garner more and more attention, the issues that swirl around them, especially concerning who votes in those elections, become highly politicized.
"Seventy percent of people don't return them - that's what the statistics show about the notices in 2011: ten percent were returned as undeliverable, 20 percent were returned, and 1.2 million people just threw them in the circular file", Smith said. He said he never saw the notice.
Secretary of State Jon Husted will be on hand Wednesday for arguments, and says the decades-old practice is essential to preserving election integrity.
"We're very proud of Ohio's system of elections", Husted said.