A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld Ohio’s method for removing ineligible voters from its rolls, saying it does not violate any part of the National Voter Registration Act. Failure to cast a ballot for two years triggers Ohio’s removal process. Notices are sent to voters whose registration is flagged. Registration is canceled if there’s no response to the notices, no votes are cast during the next four years and the voter’s address isn’t updated. “Ohio removes the registrants at issue on a permissible ground: change of residence,” said the 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito. “The failure to return a notice and the failure to vote simply serve as evidence that a registrant has moved, not as the ground itself for removal.”
The decision said that as long as the trigger for sending voter removal notices is “uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act … States may use whatever trigger they think best,” to start the voter removal process, including the failure to vote.
Organizations and individuals who challenged the law said Ohio’s process was illegal under federal laws that ban states from using voter inactivity to spark removal from the rolls. In 2016, an appeals court ruled Ohio’s process violated the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The Supreme Court overturned that decision Monday.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted called the ruling in the case known as Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute “a victory for election integrity, and a defeat for those who use the federal court system to make election law across the country.”