Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will appeal a ruling that the state was improperly purging voters from its rolls, arguing that the process is important for election integrity. “The current status of this case leaves one of our most important election safeguards in limbo,” Husted said in a statement. “I will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse this unnecessary intrusion into our state’s elections process.” A. Philip Randolph Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union Ohio and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless sued Ohio, arguing that the state’s system for culling voter registration lists violated federal elections laws because it punished voters for inactivity. Elections boards weed out ineligible voters — those who have died or been found incompetent or convicted of felonies or who have moved from the voting jurisdiction. But Ohio’s process for years has also been triggered by lack of voting.
The plaintiffs argued that trigger violated specific provisions in the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 which say registered voters may not be disqualified simply because they have not voted.
A federal district judge ruled in June ruled that Ohio’s process was consistent with federal laws because voters are not removed solely for not voting. But in September, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, finding that the state’s process for removing voters was indeed illegal.
Voters not found in poll books were allowed to cast provisional ballots. That allowed elections boards time to check their information against past voting lists and databases after Election Day. If the voter was not dead or incarcerated and still lived in the county where they were most recently registered, the voter was assumed to have been purged for inactivity and the ballot was to be counted.