OH official defends state's voter roll system

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But his name had been stricken from the voting rolls. A ruling for OH could prompt other states to adopt the practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco used his 10 minutes before the justices to make the case that the NVRA was meant to improve voter roll maintenance practices across the country.

Helle feels that voters should not be forced to cast ballots for issues or candidates that they do not believe in, just to avoid being unregistered. Only a handful of states use a process similar to Ohio's, but others could join in if the high court sides with the state.

But U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco - whose office changed sides in the case after Trump was elected - said OH has a right to streamline "over-inflated" and "bloated" voter registration rolls.

The Trump administration supports the State of Ohio.

Prof. Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine, says if the court sides with OH, "you'll see more red states making it easier to drop people from the voter registration rolls, and it's going to continue what I call the voting wars between the parties". As part of the lawsuit, a judge past year ordered the state to count 7,515 ballots cast by people whose names had been removed from the voter rolls.

At the Supreme Court, Ohio will be appealing a ruling that said its purge was illegal. His case is now before the US Supreme Court.

Murphy argued that failing to vote is not the sole basis for removing voters from Ohio's rolls, and that voters must ignore notices they're sent before they're dropped.

Under Ohio's regimen, if a person does not vote in a two-year period, they are mailed a notice to verify or correct their address.

OH says the program helps the state determine which citizens have died or moved to different jurisdictions, warranting their removal from the registry. Harmon said he never received the notice, but state records indicate it was sent. But even people whose lack of participation can be attributed to apathy should be allowed to cast a ballot if they're still eligible.

"I'm in Rhode Island", Breyer said. "Choosing not to vote is as important as choosing to vote.

The inevitable result is that OH erroneously purges voters who haven't moved, who remain eligible to vote, but who may end up being disenfranchised".

The case is just one battlefront of a larger war being waged against the National Voter Registration Act - the so-called "Motor Voter" law that streamlined the process by which people can registered to vote and put standards on how states could clean their voter rolls. Kennedy often swings a decision that splits the conservative and liberal-leaning justices.

Samuel Spital is the director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.

At least a dozen other states have suggested they will follow Ohio's lead if the state wins.

Husted says the system has been in place for over 20 years, under Democratic and Republican secretaries of state. The problem, the state said, is that some people move without notifying the post office. "Fifty or 60 percent of the voters in OH routinely don't vote over a two-year period".

Helle, now the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, is among thousands of state residents with tales of being removed from Ohio's rolls because they didn't vote in some elections. If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.

Passed in 2002, the Help America Vote Act specifically mentions a process of trimming voter rolls that involves a notice sent to voters. Voting is a fundamental right and should not be a "use it or lose it" proposition.

The Trump administration said the practice complies with federal law because people are not removed from the rolls "by reason of their initial failure to vote".

The Trump administration filed a brief in support of the OH "use it or lose it" voting policy a year ago in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, which will be heard in the nation's top court on Wednesday.