Reversing the position it took during the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice under President Trump last week asked the Supreme Court to uphold a procedure the state of Ohio wants to use to purge some voters from its election rolls — a practice that disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters. The court should decline the invitation and rule that Ohio is violating the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. That landmark law prohibits states from purging registered voters from the rolls just because they failed to vote. Ohio argues that its procedure is justified by language added to federal law in 2002. But the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s interpretation last year. The appeals court said that using a lack of voter activity as a “trigger” for beginning the purge process made a “paper tiger” of the law’s ban on purges for not voting.
There is evidence that Ohio’s policy would have harmed a significant number of perfectly eligible voters. After the appeals court decision, a federal district court issued an injunction that allowed 7,500 Ohio voters who otherwise would have been purged under the state’s rule to cast votes in the 2016 presidential election. These were voters who apparently hadn’t responded to (or perhaps simply hadn’t received) a notice from election officials seeking to confirm that their address hadn’t changed.
Ideally, those voters and others would participate in every election, but choosing to skip one or more elections shouldn’t be grounds for disqualification from voting in the future. That was the judgment Congress made when it enacted the National Voter Registration Act, whose stated objectives included getting more eligible voters to register.
Full Article: Don’t suppress the vote, but keep track of voters – LA Times.