After tackling partisan gerrymandering in October, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the controversial issue of voter purges in a November case that could have major implications for the 2018 mid-term elections. Scheduled for oral argument on Nov. 8, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute will determine whether failure to cast a ballot in recent elections, or “voter inactivity,” can lawfully trigger efforts to remove a person from the voter registration rolls. Critics say the purge policy used by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and disproportionately impacts black, Hispanic and poor voters who traditionally support Democrats. Republicans argue that fraud by ineligible voters can occur if people who die or move away aren’t regularly identified and cleared from the registration rolls as the NVRA requires.
That premise is a key pillar of President Trump’s voter fraud commission and the Justice Department has cited the NVRA in its efforts to force 44 states to provide information on how they maintain their voter registration lists.
Voting rights advocates say Republicans are laying the groundwork for a national voter purge effort and legal challenges to state and county purges are popping up across the country.
Ohio has the most restrictive purge system in the country, sending a confirmation notice to registered voters when they fail to vote in a federal election and then eliminating their names from the rolls if they don’t respond and fail to vote in the next two federal elections over a four-year period.