The U.S. Supreme Court made a 5-4 decision Monday to uphold Ohio’s voter-purge law. 

The “use-it-or-lose-it” law strikes voters from the rolls of registered voters after they have not voted in two consecutive elections. The local board of elections will also send the voter a “confirmation card,” which asks voters to confirm their address. 

The law is said to be the “most aggressive voter-purge system in the country,” according to NPR.  But, those who challenge the law say it violates the National Voting Rights Act, which says that a state cannot remove someone from the rolls for failing to vote. 

“Ohio uses the failure to vote for two years as a rough way of identifying voters who may have moved, and it then sends a preaddressed, postage prepaid card to these individuals asking them to verify that they still reside at the same address,” the Supreme Court decision states. “Voters who do not return this card and fail to vote in any election for four more years are presumed to have moved and are removed from the rolls.”

Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey said in November that she’s “upset” by the perception that officials are removing people from voting rolls without cause, according to a previous Post report

“It is the responsibility of the voter to keep up with their registration,” Quivey said. “It’s just like your driver’s license. You have to keep that up, and voters have to take responsibility for their voting.”

During the May 8 primary election, there were 44,850 registered voters in Athens County. That number is down from the previous election, in November 2017, by 315 voters. There were 45,165 people registered to vote Nov. 7. That could be, however, for myriad reasons and not only because of voter purging. 

“Removing people — it’s essentially undemocratic,” Ashley Fishwick, former Ohio University College Democrats President, said in a previous Post report. “It’s so hard to register voters, and then they go and just scrap voters from the rolls. It’s important people remember that once you’re registered, you have to make sure you follow through and vote.”


According to the Ohio Voter Project, which shows weekly statistics on voters each week, more than 12,000 voters were dropped. More than 1,500 of those voters were ages 18 to 24. 

The ruling could be a major victory for Republicans, according to USA Today, because they often benefit from lower voter turnout. 

"This purge program burdens the rights of eligible voters," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in USA Today. "At best, purged voters are forced to needlessly reregister if they decide to vote in a subsequent election; at worst, they are prevented from voting at all because they never receive information about when and where elections are taking place."

Justice Samuel Alito, however, noted that an estimated one in eight voter registrations in the U.S. are invalid or inaccurate, according to USA Today. 

"A state violates the failure-to-vote clause only if it removes registrants for no reason other than their failure to vote," Alito said in USA Today

Read the full decision here. Readers can check if they are registered to vote in Athens County here. 

@maddiecapron

mc055914@ohio.edu

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