U.S. Supreme Court justices suggested they may give states broader latitude to purge their voting databases of people who might have moved, as the court heard arguments Wednesday in an Ohio case that could shape who gets to cast ballots in the November election. Justice Stephen Breyer hinted he might join his more conservative colleagues in voting to uphold an Ohio system that uses non-voting as a factor in deciding which people to remove from the rolls. Breyer questioned whether states have enough other tools to purge people who have moved away or died in far-away places. “What are they supposed to do?” he asked. “Is Rhode Island supposed to look at the Tasmanian voting records or hospital records?”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the court’s swing vote, said states are aiming to “protect the voter roll from people that have moved.” Two other Republican appointees, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, asked no questions during the hour-long session, leaving some uncertainty about the ultimate outcome.
The case has become a proxy for the highly partisan fight over the country’s election rules. Republicans are calling for stepped-up efforts to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats say those moves are a thinly veiled campaign to stop liberals and minorities from casting ballots.