The Trump administration moved deeper into the politics of voter suppression this week by reversing the federal government’s opposition to Ohio’s effort to purge tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because they vote infrequently. A federal appeals court blocked Ohio’s move last year as a violation of voting laws, in a case brought by civil rights advocates and backed by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Now that an appeal has been accepted for this term by the Supreme Court, Trump appointees at Justice — not career professionals — have changed the government’s position to side with Ohio, in effect endorsing the purge and asking that it be allowed to go forward.
The case is a major challenge to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which require states to update rolls by deleting voters who move away, but bar the states from deregistering people simply because of voting inactivity.
Viewed in a wider lens, the Justice Department reversal is a transparent part of the Trump administration’s embrace of voter suppression tactics engineered by red-state Republicans in the name of preventing “voter fraud” — a nonexistent problem, according to repeated nonpartisan research. The real goal is to block minority and poor citizens who tend to vote for Democrats.