Supreme Court appears sympathetic to Ohio voter roll purge effort

chicagotribune.com | 1/10/2018 | Staff
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The Supreme Court appeared sympathetic Wednesday to states that seek to prune their voting rolls by targeting people who haven't voted in a while.

In a case from Ohio, opponents of the practice called it a violation of a federal law that was intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said minorities and homeless people appear to be disproportionately kicked off the rolls.

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But the court's conservatives and possibly also Justice Stephen Breyer indicated that they would uphold the state's effort.

Ohio - Handful - States - Voters - Inactivity

Ohio is among a handful of states that use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from voter rolls. A ruling for Ohio could prompt other states to adopt the practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans.

Signaling support for Ohio's defense of the process, Justice Anthony Kennedy said states are "trying to protect their voter rolls...What we're talking about are the best tools to implement that reason, to implement that purpose." Kennedy's vote often is decisive in voting cases that otherwise split conservative and liberal justices.

Breyer - Lawyer - Opponents - Process - Questions

Breyer repeatedly pressed the lawyer for opponents of the process, but had no questions for the lawyer representing Ohio.

The opponents say the 1993 National Voter Registration Act prohibits using voting inactivity to trigger purges and that Ohio purges registered voters who are still eligible to vote. A federal appeals court sided with the challengers.

Partisan - Fights - Ballot - Access - Country

Partisan fights over ballot access are being fought across the country. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes from minorities and poorer people who tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud.

Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven't moved and remain...
(Excerpt) Read more at: chicagotribune.com
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