Supreme Court Will Hear Ohio Voter Purge Case
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court granted Ohio’s petition to hear Husted v. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI). The case addresses Ohio’s supplemental process, a practice of targeting voters who fail to vote in a 2-year-period for eventual cancelation of their registrations — even if they have not moved and are still fully eligible to vote.
In early 2016, the ACLU of Ohio and Dēmos filed a lawsuit on behalf of APRI, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and Ohio resident Larry Harmon challenging Ohio’s supplemental process. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case, the groups released the following statements:
Freda Levenson, Legal Director, ACLU of Ohio: “Ohio’s purge of eligible voters has served as a powerful mechanism of voter suppression. Ohio has purged hundreds of thousands of people from the voter rolls simply because they have exercised their right not to vote in a few elections. This purge process violates the National Voter Registration Act. We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the correct decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and will ultimately ensure that eligible Ohio voters may not be stricken from the rolls.”
Brenda Wright, Vice President, Policy & Legal Strategies at Dēmos: “Ohio’s practice of purging infrequent voters from the rolls has prevented countless eligible Ohioans from casting their votes and making their voices heard, and violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The NVRA clearly prohibits states from systematically preventing eligible persons from exercising their right to vote by removing voters from the rolls based on their failure to vote. We are confident that the Supreme Court will confirm Congress’ considered and bipartisan judgment on this issue by affirming the Sixth Circuit’s well-reasoned decision.”
Andre Washington, President, Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute: “In 2015, Ohio conducted a massive statewide purge of infrequent voters from its registration rolls. In Cuyahoga County alone, approximately 40,000 individuals were unlawfully purged merely for choosing not to vote, and a disproportionate number of those people came from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The Supreme Court must uphold the Sixth Circuit’s decision to ensure that all Ohio citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”
Brian Davis, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless: “As we have seen time and time again, homeless voters and other marginalized voters have to fight to make their voices heard in the electoral process. NEOCH works hard to bring these voters into the electoral process, but unfortunately, the state of Ohio has used the Supplemental Process to illegally shut many of them out again. The Supreme Court must ensure that this injustice is corrected.”
About Husted v. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI):
Ohio has a practice of targeting voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the voter roll — even if they have not moved and are still fully eligible to vote. This practice, known as the supplemental process, resulted in the removal of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans from the voter rolls in 2015 alone.
After a lawsuit was brought by those challenging the supplemental process, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down Ohio’s controversial purge of infrequent voters from its voter rolls. In September 2016, the Sixth Circuit found that the process violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by removing voters from the voter registration rolls merely because of their failure to vote.
As a result of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, the federal district court entered an injunction for the November 2016 presidential election that ultimately allowed more than 7,500 Ohio voters to cast a ballot. All of these were eligible voters who would have been denied their right to vote under Ohio’s unlawful process, if the Sixth Circuit had not enjoined Ohio’s improper practices.
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