Congresswoman Beatty Seeks to End Aggressive Voter Purges
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute allowing the State of Ohio to remove voters from the voting rolls because of inactivity, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) introduced new legislation that would prohibit this harmful practice.
Specifically, Beatty’s bill, the Save Voters Act, H.R. 3201, would bar states from purging potential voters based on their failure to vote or respond to a written notice, unless the notice is returned as undeliverable. Moreover, a state must inform a voter when they are removed from the rolls and include the reason for removal and information on how to contest removal or be reinstated. Further, states must also disseminate a public notice within 48 hours of conducting any general program to remove names from the official list of eligible voters, informing the public that list maintenance is taking place and that registrants should check their voter status.
“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,” Beatty said. “The Supreme Court’s decision allowing the State of Ohio to continue its aggressive voter purge makes it much harder for Ohioans to vote—especially communities of color, veterans and vulnerable populations—and lays the groundwork for other states to prevent many more Americans from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote.” Beatty continued, “That is why I am introducing the Save Voters Act to ensure that a person who is registered to vote and has not done anything to affirmatively disqualify themselves has their vote counted.”
At the heart of the case is an 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.
The Save Voters Act is backed by Common Cause Ohio. Speaking in support of Beatty’s bill, Common Cause Ohio Executive Director Catherine Turcer said, “Despite that many Americans died fighting for the right to vote, we're now seeing an increasing number of states and localities trying to suppress the votes of certain eligible American voters. We must continue fighting to protect our voices at the ballot box, and we appreciate Congresswoman Beatty's efforts to protect our sacred right to vote."
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