Supreme Court gives OK to states to clean voting rolls

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OH wanted to initiate a purge that sent notices to voters if they missed voting for just two years, arguing that it was the subsequent failure to respond to multiple notices that triggered their removal, not failure to vote. And in a scathing separate dissent, Justice Sotomayor reminded the Court that it was perverting the entire goal of the motor-voter law by construing it as permissive toward voter purges - particularly those which, like Ohio's, disproportionately affects minority voters, which the same law prohibits.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing in dissent, said the 1993 law prohibits removing someone from the voting rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote".

The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a U.S. Postal Service list of people who have reported a change of address. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. Voting-rights challengers said the state's approach was among the strictest in the nation.

At least a dozen other politically conservative states said they would adopt a similar practice if OH prevailed, as a way of keeping their voter registration lists accurate and up to date.

The court's five conservative justices voted in the majority, with the court's four liberals dissenting.

Facing those sorts of issues, OH wanted to try to remove people who failed to vote in a six-year period and who failed to return a notice, figuring at that point they had probably moved and the registration was invalid.

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"Combined with the two years of non-voting before notice is sent, that makes a total of six years of non-voting before removal", Alito wrote.

She argued that the ruling from the conservative justices "entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate".

Aside from showing the importance of who does and does not get confirmed for the Supreme Court, the decision illustrates the weakness of federal voting-rights laws.

Civil rights groups said the court should be focused on making it easier for people to vote, not allowing states to put up roadblocks to casting ballots. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that "today's decision empowers OH to further strip away the right to vote for thousands of Ohioans, threatening the integrity of our state's election process". In 2016, an appeals court ruled Ohio's process violated the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. He is running for lieutenant-governor this November on the Republican ticket headed by Mike DeWine, the current attorney general.

The Trump administration supported Ohio's voter purge.

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