The state "sends notices to registrants who have "not engage [d] in any voter activity for a period of two consecutive years.'" After such a notice is sent, "Ohio removes registrants from the rolls only if they 'fai [l] to respond" and 'continu [e] to be inactive for an additional period of four consecutive years, including two federal general elections'".
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said OH officials were not violating federal law with their purge policy (which, according to a federal appeals court, has resulted in 7,500 OH voters being wrongly purged).
Federal law prohibits removing voters simply because they failed to vote.
The Trump administration defended the OH policy, a reversal from the Obama years, when the Justice Department challenged it in court.
Under the OH law, voters who don't go to the polls for two consecutive years are sent a letter, asking them to confirm they are still living at the same address.
Alito wrote the majority opinion and even he didn't sound that thrilled with the OH law. Thankfully, today the Supreme Court reined in one of those lower court opinions, but the broader threat to state powers over election integrity remains strong.
Alito emphasized the ruling was based on whether or not Ohio's process violated federal law, not if it was good policy or not.
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State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, said in a statement that she was "deeply disappointed in this ruling" and urged Husted to "act with restraint".
And thus Ohio's program for maintaining voter rolls is legal.
Voting rights advocates had sued OH, saying its purges had the effect of culling minorities disproportionately from the voter rolls.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio's aggressive voter purge method on Monday. If the voter fails to respond and does not vote in the next two elections, that person is presumed to have moved and removed from the rolls. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls. All four of the Court's Democrats joined a dissenting opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a separate dissent.
This presented a problem for OH because the state utilizes one of the strictest removal methods in the country, according to NBC News. "First with the Voting Rights Act and today with giving the green light to an atrocious use-it-or-lose-it approach to voter registration". A federal appeals court had blocked the procedure for 2016, letting 7,500 state residents cast ballots even though they'd previously been struck from the rolls.
The litigation also marked one of several high-profile matters in which the Justice Department in the Trump administration sharply reversed course from its positions in the Obama era. Alito said OH skirts that prohibition by sending voters the postcard, to which they can respond before their registrations are canceled.
The case centered around Larry Harmon, an OH resident who sat out the 2012 presidential election, as well as the 2010 and midterm elections, but wanted to vote on a ballot initiative concerning whether to legalize marijuana.