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.
U.S. States can target people who haven't cast ballots in a while in efforts to purge their voting rolls, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that has drawn wide attention amid stark partisan divisions and the approach of the 2018 elections. Samuel Alito delivered the opinion for the conservative majority in Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute that gave the state of OH - famed for its highly partisan election administration regime - great leeway in designing a purge of voter rolls after narrowly construing some confusing language in the federal motor-voter legislation (officially the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) that was created to expand voter participation.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered OH the news that it is allowed to purge thousands of stagnant voters from the state registration records.
Justice Stephen Breyer issued a dissenting opinion, which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - the other members on the court's liberal wing - joined.
The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a USA postal service list of people who have reported a change of address. Republicans say voter rolls need scrutiny to prevent fraud and promote ballot integrity, while Democrats insist the efforts are meant to reduce turnout from Democratic-leaning groups such as racial minorities.
This presented a problem for OH because the state utilizes one of the strictest removal methods in the country, according to NBC News.
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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 only question before us is whether it violates federal law".
The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision a "setback for voting rights".
A decision upholding Ohio's law will pave the way for more aggressive vote-purging efforts in OH and other states, said Dale Ho, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project. He is running for lieutenant-governor this November on the Republican ticket headed by Mike DeWine, the current attorney general.
But U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco - whose office changed sides in the case after Trump was elected - said OH had the right to streamline "over-inflated" and "bloated" voter registration rolls.
Said Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio: "Today's decision is a blow, not just to Ohio voters, but to the democratic process". A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.