Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed a lower court ruling that rejected the state’s policy of starting to purge the registration of voters who fail to vote over a two-year period. Registration is canceled if the voter does not cast a ballot during the subsequent four years or update his or her address. Repeated notices are sent to voters whose registration has been flagged. Organizations who challenged Ohio’s policy say targeting inactive voters for eventual registration cancellation amounts to “voter suppression” that violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. “It is common sense that eligible voters have the right to choose when, how, and how often to vote,” said a statement on the case from ACLU Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho. “They shouldn’t be disenfranchised for exercising that right.”
Husted, a Republican, says the lower court decision opinion ignored basic federalism principles, arguing that “proper voter roll maintenance, including the removal of deceased voters and those who have long since moved, is one of the pillars of ensuring fair elections.”
The policy removed nearly 560,000 deceased Ohioans from voting rolls since Husted became Secretary of State, and resolved the cases of more than 1.65 million voters who had multiple registrations. Proper maintenance of the state’s voter means fewer Ohioans have trouble casting a ballot and more ballots are counted, Husted said.
Husted’s legal filings argue that failure to respond to confirmation notices – not failure to vote – is what triggers cancellation of a voter’s registration.