Brief of Current and Former Ohio Elections Officials as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents

Brief of Current and Former Ohio Elections Officials as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents

September 22, 2017
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SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

Amici, current and former Ohio elections officials, seek to ensure that Ohio’s voter rolls are as up-to-date and accurate as possible. Ohio’s Supplemental Process is antithetical to that goal. It results in the elimination of voters from the rolls who are, in fact, eligible to vote. And it targets for elimination from the rolls those people who simply choose not to vote.

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) authorizes elections officials to update the rolls when voters move. But the statute expressly forbids elections officials from removing voters for not voting. As the statute contemplates, the failure to cast a vote in every election should not disqualify a voter. See 52 U.S.C. § 20507(b)(2) (prohibiting “[a]ny State program or activity” that “result[s] in the removal ... of any person from the official list of voters registered to vote ... by reason of the person’s failure to vote”).

Paying little heed to this restriction, Ohio’s Supplemental Process purges registered voters who are still eligible to vote. It eliminates both people who have never moved and those who have moved within the State (or even within their county). Yet Ohio law ensures that voters who move within the State remain eligible to vote. Ignoring this critical component of Ohio law, the petitioner eliminates them from the rolls even though they can still lawfully appear at their polling place and cast a ballot under Ohio’s portable voter-registration system. These voters have the right to choose when to vote, and to choose not to vote, without jeopardizing their eligibility.

Ohio elections officials implement other mechanisms that do in fact protect against ineligible voters staying on the rolls, while at the same time ensuring that eligible voters remain registered. And, if the State wanted to further increase the accuracy of the voting rolls, there are other more targeted measures that could be adopted without disenfranchising duly registered Ohioans. By contrast, abstaining from casting a ballot has nothing to do with an Ohio voter’s eligibility to vote. This Court should respect Congress’s decision to forbid Ohio from purging infrequent voters and affirm the decision below. 

 

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