With renewed vigor, United States top court scrutinizes curbs on voting

Kristen Gonzales
January 13, 2018

The justices heard arguments in a case from OH, among a handful of states that use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from election rolls.

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.

The voting rights debate also is playing out on a national level.

And there's another sign of the case's political implications: After past administrations supported the law's challengers, President Trump's Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco switched sides and on Wednesday argued for Ohio.

The case, Husted v.

The nonprofit groups challenging this method of voter pruning says OH is not alone: Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all use a similar process. Voter-rights groups should focus efforts on getting the word out. Slate says up to 1.2 million voters may have been purged from Ohio's rolls after they sat out a couple of elections.

One of them was Larry Harmon, a US Navy veteran who discovered to his dismay in November 2015 that he had been struck from the electoral roll, despite the fact that he had not moved in 16 years. Helle, a Democrat, called Ohio's process "archaic" and "terrible policy".

It is the supplementary process that now faces legal scrutiny.

The problem - according to Paul Smith, who is representing OH civil groups in the case - is that most people simply toss the notice "into the waste basket".

So the state asks people who havent voted in two years to confirm their eligibility.

In a case from OH, opponents of the practice called it a violation of a federal law that was meant to increase the ranks of registered voters.

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But Smith also stressed that Ohio's specific regimen is flawed. Between 2011 and 2016, OH had removed about 1.2 million infrequent voters. Under Ohio's current process, Smith said, 70 percent don't respond to the confirmation mailing.

Sotomayor, too, turned the discussion to Ohio's system specifically. "Regardless, the failure to vote is the proximate cause of removal under the supplemental process, because non-voters are singled out for failing to vote, sent confirmation notices and then removed as a direct result of their failure to vote - without any affirmative evidence that they have changed residence or otherwise become ineligible". She brought that issue up again when Smith had his turn for rebuttal. Seventeen states, generally Republican, filed a brief on the other side.

Alito said the key question was simply how to interpret the NVRA, and suggested he interpreted it differently from Smith. There are dozens of other ways that you could verify a change of address, yet you're suggesting that using a failure to appear at an election or elections as evidence of moving when people have a right not to vote if they choose.

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. Francisco told Sotomayor the department had always believed Ohio's system was compatible with the NVRA.

The Supreme Court may be poised to green-light a controversial OH program that removes infrequent voters from the state's registration lists. "That used to be a big problem - voting dead people", he said.

Loyola professor Levitt meanwhile emphasized that the case is one of statutory interpretation, meaning the balance of harm to the state and to voters will take a backseat to finer points of the NVRA itself.

On Tuesday, a federal court found that a congressional map drawn up by Republicans in the state of North Carolina was unconstitutional because it was "motivated by invidious partisan intent", calling for a new map by January 24.

"When I got to office there were some counties, that had more voters on the voter rolls than they had actual adults living in the county".

Encouraging states to conduct purges would dovetail with an administration priority.

If you can't see the basic contours here, please go back to Red State or whatever cave painting you use to stoke your fears of massive voter fraud. If they fail to take any of these actions, then the state removes them from the rolls.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts said that undercut the activists' argument, because the notices would still have been sent because of non-voting.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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