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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Beatty Statement on Supreme Court Decision Upholding Ohio’s Voter Purge

Jun 11, 2018
Press Release

Beatty Statement on Supreme Court Decision Upholding Ohio’s Voter Purge

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute that the State of Ohio has the right to remove voters from the voting rolls because of inactivity. In response, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) issued the following statement:

“The right to vote is not a ‘use-it or lose-it’ proposition. Rather, voting is a permanent guarantee that is essential to our democracy and fundamental to all the other rights we share as Americans. I fear that the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the State of Ohio to continue its aggressive voter purge will make it much harder for Ohioans to vote, especially communities of color, veterans and vulnerable populations, and may prevent many more Americans from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote if other states follow suit.”

At the heart of the Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute case is a 1994 Ohio state law that authorizes the Secretary of State to implement a “supplementary process” to remove voters, in addition to identifying and purging 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.