The Supreme Court gave the state of OH a decisive victory Monday, ruling the state is allowed to aggressively purge seemingly inactive voters from voting rolls - a practice civil rights groups have fought against. Justice Samuel Alito, in an opinion joined by the other four conservatives on the court, wrote that OH had followed the procedure laid out in the NVRA "to the letter".
Kander, who is eyeing a 2020 presidential bid, said the Supreme Court's decision highlights the need for groups like his to spotlight voter purges, which he said are highly likely to sweep up eligible voters whose registrations ought not be canceled.
The Supreme Court said that's allowed under the 1993 "motor voter" law.
Justice Samuel Alito says that OH is complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Justice Stephen Breyer penned an 18-page dissent for the liberal wing of the court. "If states take today's decision as a sign that they can be even more reckless and kick eligible voters off the rolls, we will fight back in the courts, the legislatures, and with our community partners across the country". Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud.
Ohio, often a bellwether in national elections, has removed thousands of people who don't vote for two years, don't return warning notices, and then don't vote for another four years.
The state said the policy was needed to keep voting rolls current, removing people who have moved away or died.
After registered voters miss one federal general election, they receive a mailed notification acting to confirm their address.
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If they do not respond to the notice or do not vote over the next four years, they are dropped from the registration rolls.
Failure to cast a ballot for two years triggers Ohio's removal process. "And Justice Sotomayer has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".
"The court errs in ignoring this history and distorting the statutory text to arrive at a conclusion that not only is contrary to the plain language of the NVRA but also contradicts the essential purposes of the statute, ultimately sanctioning the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", she wrote. Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) predicted dire results for voting rights.
Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), whose office created the Crosscheck program, could not demand proof of citizenship beyond what is required under federal law before someone is registered to vote. He concluded that the OH system didn't violate the NVRA's failure-to-vote language since the state also sent the written mailers.
In September 2016, a federal appeals court ruled against OH, saying that 7,515 ballots that had been struck could be cast in the that fall's election.
The administration of former president Barack Obama had opposed Ohio's process of purging voters, but Donald Trump's administration threw its support behind the midwestern state.
One of the lead plaintiffs was U.S. Navy veteran Larry Harmon, who was blocked from voting in a 2015 marijuana-legalization initiative.