This week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has triggered one of the most consequential and controversial “voter integrity” measures in the country. 275,000 inactive voters, registered in Ohio, have been sent “last chance” letters, informing them that if they do not confirm their current address and voting status, they will be purged from the voter rolls.
Voters are considered inactive if they have not participated in two consecutive elections. They are then sent a series of letters, requesting that they up update their addresses. Should they fail to respond, they are then ruled inactive. In effect, an individual would have to not vote and ignore every letter sent over the course of almost half a decade to be ruled inactive. Eighteen other states use a similar practice.
However, the process was challenged in the United States Supreme Court by the A. Philip Randolph Institute (Husted v. Randolph Institute). They alleged that the real purpose of these measures is to deny voting rights to racial minorities and the poor who are disproportionately affected by the measure. In a 5-4 decision on June 11, 2018, the court upheld the practice.
In spite of this, progressives still alleged the mechanism is a violation of civil rights and have continued to advocate against it. Husted, however, has staunchly defended his voting regulation record.
“From online voter registration to these last chance mailings, every innovative reform implemented by my office over the last eight years has been done to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” he said in a statement. “We want every eligible Ohioan to be an engaged, active participant in our elections.”
According to U.S. Code; Title 52, Subtitle II, Chapter 205, o7, every state is legally required to ensure their voter rolls are as up to date as possible. The majority of names removed are either individuals who have moved or are deceased.
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