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Ohio voter purge travels to U.S. Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling about Ohio’s controversial voter purging policy by this summer.

Ohio’s current policy of purging voters is headed to the Supreme Court where it will be determined whether or not the controversial policy is in violation of The National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Last week, the Court had their first argument session for the case of Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute. The plaintiffs, A. Phillip Randolph Institute and Larry Harmon argued in months past that Ohio’s policy is in violation of The National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Harmon found in 2015 that he had been removed from voter rolls for choosing to sit out two previous elections.

The defendants, the state of Ohio represented by Jon Husted, argued in months past that the policy does not violate the act. The Justices gave a mixed response to the case, some being sympathetic to the plaintiffs and others siding with the state.

As an opponent to the policy, Mayor Joe Helle of Oak Harbor, Ohio demonstrated outside of the national courthouse last week as he too had learned his name had been removed from voting records. Helle said that after he returned home from serving in the military from 2006-2011, he discovered that he was no longer registered to vote.

“I was told that ‘Hey, you’re a service member, you can go defend this right but we’re not going to protect you when you come home and allow you to utilize or exercise that same right you defended’”, Helle said..

According to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, states are prohibited from removing “the name of any person from the official list of registered voters for failing to vote.”

Yet under Ohio state policy, voters who miss two federal elections are sent a confirmation notice from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, asking them to confirm that they have not moved. If they fail to return the notice and fail to participate in voter activity for the next four years, their registration to vote is removed.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted defended his office’s role in this controversial policy, telling The Washington Post that, “I’ve made it my mission as Secretary of State to make Ohio a place where it is both easy to vote and hard to cheat and by any objective measure we have achieved this goal.”

Helle shared a different view about this policy.

“I think that it’s currently enforced and utilized specifically to restrict voters from voting, versus an integrity issue with elections which we don’t have”, Helle said.

“There’s no challenge of integrity or there’s a very miniscule amount of people who are actually forwarded for prosecution and prosecuted for voting illegally in Ohio.”

According to the Supreme Court of the United States Blog, the court is expected to make a ruling on this case by summer.

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