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Divided Supreme Court may allow OH voter purge policy

13 Enero 2018, 01:03 | Martinez Canez

Supreme Court To Decide on Trump-Backed Voting Rights Rule That Could Disenfranchise Thousands of Americans

Supreme Court

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. Gore - like many Trump appointees - had worked previously at the Jones Day law firm, where he spent much of his time on cases aimed at undermining voting rights.

The Justice Department is siding with OH in the case - a reversal from the Obama administration's stance. "Maintaining the integrity of the voter rolls is essential to conducting an election with efficiency and integrity", Husted said when the court agreed to hear the case last May.

The case, Husted v.

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. Voter-rights groups should focus efforts on getting the word out. When citizens fail to vote in federal elections for two years, the state sends them a letter inquiring whether they're still residing at that address.

Smith questioned why OH needed such an aggressive purging tactic at all, saying only 3 percent of Americans move each year and many take steps to update their address.

Paul Smith, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that any use of non-voting to begin the removal process was illegal.

The arguments zeroed in on whether a state could send a registration confirmation notice based merely on a person's failure to vote, which the plaintiffs argued is barred by federal law. Justice Stephen Breyer, also left-leaning, was quiet during the first half, although in the second half he asked several questions about the process of mailing and returning letters, pushing during the Randolph Institute's counsel to note that estimates suggest 70 percent of notices go unreturned.

He said OH is violating the National Voter Registration Act, which specifies that voters can be purged from the rolls only if they ask, move, are convicted of a felony, become mentally incapacitated, or die.

But Smith also stressed that Ohio's specific regimen is flawed.

More than 4.6 million of those cards have been sent to voters since 2011, the year Helle found out he was removed. To maximize participation in our political process, OH - and America - must end such discriminatory processes.

Sotomayor, too, turned the discussion to Ohio's system specifically. She brought that issue up again when Smith had his turn for rebuttal. Most of the states supporting OH have Republican governors or legislatures; most of those opposed are governed by Democrats. It's not clear what justice from the conservative bloc would swing to her side. "It's not the ground for removal in and of itself", Alito said. The state, where Republicans have controlled the secretary of state's office for all but four years since 1991, said it first compares its voter lists with a USA postal service list of people who have reported a change of address.

Critics of the approach argue that the state is violating two federal election laws that make it illegal to purge voters from rolls exclusively because of inactivity. Though he sat out the local election in 2009 and a federal midterm election in 2010, Harmon had lived at the same address in Kent, Ohio, for the last 15 years at that point.

Alito will write some ridiculous screed touting the importance of states having the right to allow only white male landowners to vote SO LONG AS it doesn't actually use the words "white", "male", and "landowner" when constructing the statute that does the work. Sotomayor asked Ohio's attorney general. On the steps of the Supreme Court today, Ohio's Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, defended the state's purge system.

Some states wouldn't need convincing: 14 state AGs filed a brief in support of Ohio's voter-purging approach (all Republicans except one independent, and four of whom were a member of the president's disbanded voter fraud commission).

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.

In 2015 alone, hundreds of thousands of people were deprived of the right to choose their elected leaders under the practice, which officially aims to keep voter rolls up to date and combat fraud.

Encouraging states to conduct purges would dovetail with an administration priority. And the justification used is nearly always to eliminate voter fraud. If they fail to take any of these actions, then the state removes them from the rolls.



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