Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Supreme Court Upholds Ohio's Controversial 'Use It or Lose It' Voter Purge Law

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 11:10 AM

click to enlarge SCENE ARCHIVES
  • Scene Archives

The Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that Ohio did not previously violate federal laws by purging voters who don't vote and fail to return notices confirming their residency. The court's five conservative justices voted in the majority, with the court's four liberals dissenting.

According to the ruling, the practice, known as the “supplemental process,” does not violate the National Voter Registration Act, which barred states from removing the names of people from the voter rolls for failing to vote.

Under the supplemental process, voters who have not voted in two years are flagged and sent an address confirmation notice. Voters who then fail to respond to the notice and vote within the next two years are removed from the rolls.

Citizens who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and then went to vote again in 2015 discovered they were no longer registered. They then sued the state of Ohio. Traditionally a swing state in national elections, Ohio has reportedly removed thousands of people who haven't voted consistently and have not replied to warning notices.

Ohio was criticized by civil rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for having the strictest method of purging voters in the nation. Given the demographics of people that miss elections, this is a decision that likely will help Republicans and harm Democrats.

According to USA Today, Republicans tend to benefit from lower voter turnout and Democrats do best in high-turnout elections. That's because minorities, young people and those with lower incomes are more likely to be disenfranchised by the state's policy.

Many view this decision as an act of voter suppression, an attempt to lower the numbers of registered democrats in favor of republican voters. According to a Reuters analysis, Ohio’s purge program disproportionately affects voters of color, particularly black voters.

Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia will also be impacted by this decision, as they use a failure to vote as a trigger to purge their registration rolls.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation