The United States Supreme Court is set to decide a case brought by the Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute Chapter, challenging a procedure the state uses to remove voters from the registration rolls based on their failure to vote.
No one would argue if you’re registered to vote in Ohio and you move to another state and plan to vote in your new home state, that you should not be removed from the voter rolls in Ohio. If you’re an Ohio registered voter that passes away, we agree that that voter’s name should be removed from the voting roll. But if you voted in the presidential election of 2012 but not 2016 — whether because you didn’t like either of the presidential candidates, or for any reason whatsoever — should your name be removed from the voting rolls after 2016 simply for not casting a ballot?
The answer, of course, is NO. That is exactly what this case is about.
People have the constitutionally protected right to vote.
It’s not a “#UseItOrLoseIt” situation.
RT if you agree!
— Ohio Unity Coalition (@OhioUnity) January 12, 2018
Here’s how hundreds of thousands of eligible, registered Ohio voters were removed from the rolls:
If a registered voter did not vote or update their registration during a two-year period, the county Board of Elections sent a postage pre-paid notice to the voter asking them to confirm their registration at that address. Recipients of the notice were removed from the rolls if they neither responded to the notice nor subsequently voted during the following four-year period. APRI argued that Ohio’s procedure violates the National Voter Registration Act – sometimes called the “Motor Voter” law – which prohibits a state from removing a person from the voter registration rolls by reason of that person’s failure to vote.
Since 2015, tens of thousands of Ohio voters have had their voting records purged; many who did not fit the criteria of the National Voter Registration Act for legal removal of voters from states’ rolls.
The Sixth Circuit Appeals Court agreed with A. Philip Randolph Institute that Ohio’s removal procedure violates federal law; but, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, asked the Supreme Court to weigh in and they took the case. The national AFL-CIO filed an amicus brief in support of APRI, along with a number of organizations which include the Democracy Initiative, AARP, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, SEIU, the National Coalition for the Homeless and its Columbus, Ohio chapter, and the Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition.
This case is of importance for many people, particularly working people and especially low-wage workers, because voting is already not easy. On Election Day, polls are only open during the work shifts of most Ohio workers. For others, childcare may be needed; many neighborhood-polling places have been closed, and still others may lack transportation to get to the polls, not to mention the cost associated with obtaining a state-issued photo ID.
These are just a few of the obstacles that already inhibit many eligible voters from casting ballots on Election Day – despite being motivated to vote in a particular election, and in some cases even arriving at the correct polling place and waiting in line just to hear they are no longer on the voter rolls.
Secretary of State Jon Husted should be erring on the side of expanding the electorate, not making it harder to vote.
As it stands, Ohio’s voter purge procedure falls disproportionately on those citizens for whom various features of the voting process already present significant obstacles to participation. USE it or LOSE it not the standard we set for voting rights, not in the United States, and not in Ohio.
By Petee Talley, Convener of the Ohio Unity Coalition, a state chapter of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Follow & engage on our social media pages facebook.com/ohiounitycoalition and twitter.com/ohiounity for more on this issue! Tweet with #StopThePurge and #ProtectMyVote to add your voice to the public conversation.
— Ohio Unity Coalition (@OhioUnity) January 11, 2018
"Use it or lose it" should never be a phrase associated with the right to vote.
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) January 10, 2018
— People Power (@peoplepower) January 10, 2018
#Ohio They are trying to take away your right to #Vote!!!
LET’S GET LOUD! #UseItOrLoseIt #SCOTUS @ohiou @OhioState @KentState @oberlincollege @CaseWesternRe @Browns @Bengals @cavs @Indians @Reds #BuckeyeNation @SenSherrodBrown @JohnKasich https://t.co/cQLFIMVLKh
— Piper Perabo (@PiperPerabo) January 7, 2018
— ProgressOhio (@ProgressOhio) January 9, 2018