WASHINGTON – Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union presented arguments today to the U.S. Supreme Court in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), a case focusing on Ohio’s practice of purging voters from its registration rolls. The groups argued that the Supplemental Process directly violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Registrants are targeted for removal from the voter rolls after failing to vote in one election and could ultimately be removed if they do not vote in the following four-year period. The practice erroneously presumes that a registrant’s failure to vote over a two-year period means that they have moved. In 2015 alone, hundreds of thousands of voters were removed under Ohio’s unlawful purge practice. Many of them arrived at the polls to vote only to learn that they were no longer registered.
“Ohio’s process denies eligible individuals their right to vote, attacking the very heart of our democracy,” said Paul Smith, vice president of litigation at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “The NVRA allows states to remove a voter’s name from the rolls only if the voter has become ineligible, and it specifically prohibits states from removing infrequent voters.”
“Voting allows for the people of this great nation to have their voices heard. Ohio’s Supplemental Process is an affront to democracy and undermines confidence in our democratic system,” said Stuart Naifeh, senior counsel at Demos.
“Eligible voters should not be purged from the rolls. Period. State-sanctioned obstacles to the ballot box keep certain groups in power over others – and also violate the law,” said Freda Levenson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio.
Dale Ho, Director, ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said, “Knocking eligible voters off the rolls simply because they exercise their right not to vote is illegal. That’s why the Court of Appeals struck down Ohio's voter purges, and the Supreme Court now has a chance to do the same.”
Chris Knestrick, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless said, “All Americans, regardless of whether or not they have a permanent residence, deserve the opportunity to participate in our democracy. Homeless Americans should have the same rights to partake in our electoral process and have their voices heard.”
Andre Washington, President, Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute said, “Voter purges, like Ohio’s Supplemental Process, disproportionately affect low income voters and voters of color who face countless barriers to casting their ballot. We should be working to make voting easier, not more difficult, for Americans that want to participate in the electoral process.”
Ohio’s Supplemental Process targets voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the voter roll based on the erroneous presumption that such voters have moved. As a direct result of this process, voters who remain fully eligible to vote are stripped from the registration rolls and denied their right to vote.