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Ohio Voter Registration Case to Go Before U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to hear a case on whether Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was correct in his decision to cancel the voting registrations of those who had failed to vote during a two-year period.

By Jessica Wehrman

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to hear a case on whether Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was correct in his decision to cancel the voting registrations of those who had failed to vote during a two-year period.

The case, Husted vs Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, focuses on the state's supplemental process, which cancels voter registrations even if the voter in question has not moved and is still eligible to vote.

Husted's office has removed 465,000 deceased voters and 1.3 million duplicate registrations from Ohio's voter rolls in recent years. His office also had a program to cancel the registrations of those who do not update their registrations or vote over six years, including three federal general elections. Those voters also are sent a confirmation notice.

But in September 2016, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down that process, finding that it violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by removing voters from the rolls simply because they have not voted.

Because of that ruling, the federal district court entered an injunction for the November 2016 presidential election that ultimately allowed more than 7,500 Ohio voters to cast a ballot who would otherwise have been dropped from the voter rolls.

Freda Levenson, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio, said the policy of purging eligible voters "has served as a powerful mechanism of voter suppression."

"Ohio has purged hundreds of thousands of people from the voter rolls simply because they have exercised their right not to vote in a few elections," she said, adding that she was confident the Supreme Court would uphold the 6th Circuit decision.

(c)2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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