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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ohio Secretary of State Will Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Restore His 'Voter Purge' Policy, Ruled Illegal Earlier This Year

Posted By on Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 12:30 PM

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In the weeks leading up to the general election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's policy of "purging" voters from the state rolls came under legal fire: Federal judges ruled against him, and insisted that his broad application of the rules was an unconstitutional violation of the National Voting Rights Act.

Now Husted is promising to continue the fight. He's taking his claims to the U.S. Supreme Court. (SCOTUS has not yet decided whether to hear the case.)

Recall that Husted's office was found to have removed potentially thousands of legitimate voters from the state rolls. One significant rationale offered was that those voters hadn't engaged in "voter activity" (classified as registering to vote or voting) in six years, or three consecutive federal elections. It's unclear how many voters were deleted from state databases, but an AP investigation did determine that more than 4.6 million Ohioans had been "warned" that they lose registered-voter status since 2011. Democrats estimate "thousands" were tossed from the rolls. (The purge also includes getting rid of the names of deceased voters or those that have moved out of state — the natural reason for this sort of policy, as federal judges have explained. Husted's broader application was what led the ACLU and the Ohio Democratic Party to bring suit against Husted's office.)

That policy was nixed, and at least some of the purged voters in Ohio were restored to the database ahead of the election. Husted sees the policy as a shield against voter fraud.

"The current status of this case leaves one of our most important election safeguards in limbo," he said in a public statement. "Proper voter roll maintenance, including the removal of deceased voters and those who have long-since moved, is one of the pillars of ensuring fair elections. Ohio's process for removing duplicate registrations and those of deceased and relocated voters has been consistent under both Republicans and Democrats for over two decades and has been one of our greatest defenses against voter fraud and abuse."

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