The Supreme Court ruled today that the state of Ohio was within its rights to purge voters from the rolls who did not vote or who did not return notices confirming their residency.
The decision was based on the fact that Ohio waits to remove a voter from the rolls until after they have both failed to vote as well as failed to respond to a notice.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion for the majority.
“A state violates the failure-to-vote clause only if it removes registrants for no reason other than their failure to vote.” — Alito
Here’s how the process breaks down: if you don’t vote for two years, don’t respond to warning notices, and don’t vote for another four years — so basically if you don’t vote for six years — you will be removed from the Ohio voter registration lists.
The issue arose after Ohio voters who hadn’t cast a ballot since Barack Obama’s 2008 win discovered that they had been purged from the lists.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an 18-page dissent on behalf of the liberal bloc of the court, who have now dissented as a group six times this term, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor went so far as to write an additional dissent of her own.
“This purge program burdens the rights of eligible voters. At best, purged voters are forced to needlessly reregister if they decide to vote in a subsequent election; at worst, they are prevented from voting at all because they never receive information about when and where elections are taking place.” — Sotomayor
The ruling is predicted to disproportionately affect minority voters, low-income voters, as well as disabled and veteran voters, all of whom tend to register and vote as Democrats.
And while Democrats may have experienced record-breaking registration rates this year, actual turn-out among Democrats in primaries across the nation have been disappointing to say the least, with California taking an unprecedented lead in Democratic apathy and laziness, resulting in a Republican candidate on the ballot for the California governorship.
U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco backed the decision, saying that Ohio has the right to tidy up its “over-inflated” and “bloated” registration rolls.