In a case that could directly affect the ongoing fight over access to the polls, the Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether Ohio and 17 other states can remove tens of thousands of legally registered voters from eligible-voter databases in Ohio, a perennial political battleground that President Donald Trump won by eight points in 2016. Yet the outcome of the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, could not only encourage other states to follow suit but also bolster conservatives’ ongoing hunt to prove voter fraud – a disproven yet persistent belief that unregistered voters and non-U.S. citizens are illegally gaining access to the ballot box. “The stakes are high in this case,” Beth Taggart, spokeswoman for the Ohio chapter of the League of Women Voters, writes in an email interview. The League’s national and local chapters are among several organizations, including the ACLU and Brennan Center for Justice, who have joined the Randolph Institute, a civil- and voting-rights advocacy group, in fighting the law.
What the state has called a voter roll maintenance process, “illegally prevents duly registered citizens across the state from exercising their franchise and making their voices heard,” she writes.
Not so, says Aaron Sellers, a spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections in Ohio’s largest county. He says the law simply guarantees election integrity and that access to the ballot box is secure. “It’s important for us to keep up-to-date, accurate voter logs,” Sellers told The Dayton Daily News last week.
The arguments before the high court comes just days after Trump – who argues he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because millions of votes were illegally cast – shut down a White House committee investigating the issue. Instead, the president instructed the Department of Homeland Security, a powerful cabinet-level agency with access to far more data on voters and U.S. residents who are non-citizens, to take up the matter.