The idea that voting should be encouraged, and voter registration simple, has been a touchstone of federal law for decades. That idea is now under assault by Republicans in statehouses across the country and, more recently, in the Trump Justice Department. On Monday, political appointees in Justice engineered an about-face in the government’s position on a key voting rights case before the Supreme Court, backing Ohio’s efforts to purge hundreds of thousands of infrequent voters from the state’s voter rolls. You read that right. According to Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, who is now running for governor, it’s okay for a state to disqualify people from voting in the future if they haven’t voted in the recent past — specifically, in the past six years.
Mr. Husted’s crusade in Ohio is one front in a nationwide GOP campaign to suppress voting generally, the calculation being that most of those kicked off voting lists will belong to Democratic-leaning constituencies, especially minorities and younger voters. Seeking loopholes in federal law, Mr. Husted and his counterparts are pressing their case for the ostensible purpose of combating voter fraud and maintaining electoral integrity.
Never mind that in-person voter fraud barely exists in the United States and that the integrity of the vast majority of American elections is very rarely in doubt. As the demographic challenges to Republican electoral prospects mount, they have redoubled attempts to retain power where they hold it not by broadening their appeal but by shrinking the electorate.