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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Beatty Calls on Supreme Court to Defend Ohioans’ Right to Vote

Jan 10, 2018

Beatty Calls on Supreme Court to Defend Ohioans’ Right to Vote

Supreme Court to determine whether Ohio’s voter purge process is lawful

Today, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) joined the entire Ohio Congressional Democratic Delegation for a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States, coinciding with oral arguments on the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute

At the heart of the Husted v. A. Philp Randolph Institute case is whether the State of Ohio has the right to remove tens of thousands of voters from the voting rolls. Under a 1994 state law, the Ohio Secretary of State has a “supplementary process” to remove voters, in addition to other standard procedures for voters who died, moved to other states, or otherwise lost voting eligibility. That “supplementary process” involves the Secretary of State producing a list of voters who go two years without voting activities (e.g. voting and/or updating their personal contact information) and sending those voters a notice. If that notice is not returned or the voter does not vote in the subsequent four years, then that voter is automatically struck from the rolls.

Independent analysis has found this policy to be especially harmful to at-risk Ohioans, people of color, veterans and students—as these populations are less likely to have a longstanding, permanent address. One such example is decorated veteran and Mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, Joe Helle, who discovered he too was purged from the voter rolls when he attempted to vote recently.

“The right to vote is essential to our democracy and is fundamental to all the other rights and values that we share as Americans,” Beatty said. “In America, a person who has registered to vote and has not done anything to affirmatively disqualify themselves should be able to go to their polling station on Election Day and have their vote counted. That is not a controversial idea.”

Since 2011, Secretary of State Jon Husted has removed two million Ohioans from the rolls, including more than 840,000 people under the “supplementary process”—making Ohio one of the most aggressive states in the nation at purging voters based on data from the Election Administration and Voting Survey 2016 Comprehensive Survey.

Prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, Ohio’s ongoing voter purge was challenged in court. The A. Philip Randolph Institute, Demos, the ACLU of Ohio and many others argued that the state’s move violates the National Voter Protection Act (NVPA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Enacted in 1993, NVPA requires states to maintain accurate voting lists but specifies that states cannot remove voters strictly because they failed to cast a ballot. Moreover, HAVA requires states to remove ineligible voters from their lists but stipulates that “no registrant may be removed solely by reason of a failure to vote.”

Beatty concluded, “It is a shame that Ohio officials are misinterpreting clear statutes and as a result making it harder for people to vote, when they should be reaching out to include more people in our electoral process.”

To watch a recording of Congresswoman Beatty’s remarks on the Supreme Court steps, please visit her Facebook page.