Supreme Court upholds unreasonable voter purge standard

supreme courtThe Supreme Court ruled Monday against Ohio voters by upholding the state’s purging practice for those voters who did not vote in a single election in the case of Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

“The Supreme Court got this one wrong. The right to vote is not ‘use it or lose it’,” said Chris Carsonpresident of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The public trust in the fairness of our elections is badly shaken. This decision will fuel the fire of voter suppressors across the country who want to make sure their chosen candidates win reelection—no matter what the voters say.”

The League of Women Voters of the United States, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law previously filed a friend of the court brief in the case, arguing that the state’s purge process which could be initiated after a voter missed a single federal election, violated the National Voter Registration Act. Ohio’s voter purge practice, kept hundreds of thousands of eligible, registered voters from participating in the 2016 elections.

“Not only did Ohio voters not find justice today, but the high court has opened up the opportunity for extreme voter purging to continue in Ohio, which could spread to other states,” said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “Today’s decision further undermines the National Voter Registration Act’s protections for duly registered voters, which will increase voter confusion and provisional ballot counts in the fall. We encourage Ohio voters to confirm their registration ahead of this fall’s elections and to join the League as volunteers register and re-register eligible voters.”

“While this is disappointing, Ohio is one of only a few states that used failure to vote as a trigger for kicking someone off the rolls,” said Myrna Pérez, Director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Our worry is that other states will take this decision as a green light to implement more aggressive voter purges as the 2018 elections loom.”

“A democracy is strongest when every voice can be heard – when every eligible voter can cast their vote and have it counted,” Carson said. “The League of Women Voters will continue to fight for voting rights, for equality at the ballot box, and equal representation in government.”

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