Supreme Court Upholds Ohio Voter Registration Law

Court rules it lawful for state to remove voters with unconfirmed eligibility from registration rolls

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The U.S. Supreme Court backed Ohio in its ruling on Monday regarding the state's current measure for canceling inactive voter registrations.

The court voted 5-4 to uphold Ohio's current law, which allows the state to remove voters from its rolls who haven't voted for two years and haven't confirmed their eligibility, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under the law, which was previously invalidated by an appeals court in 2016,  the state sends a notice to voters to confirm eligibility after a two year period of not voting. Voters then have four years to vote or have their registration cancelled.

While federal law does not allow states to remove citizens from rolls purely for reason of not having voted, the federal government also wants states to have accurate lists of voters. In the majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito wrote Ohio's approach was lawful.

Support for laws like Ohio's has often fallen along partisan lines, with Democrats most often opposing and Republicans supporting measures of the sort, according to the Journal.

More broadly, the dispute plays into a national debate between Republicans and Democrats over a push in some states to tighten the voting process. Republicans generally say such moves are necessary to combat voter fraud, while Democrats see them as a way to restrict voting by minorities and young people who tend to vote Democratic.

The litigation also marked one of several high-profile matters in which the Justice Department in the Trump administration sharply reversed course from its positions in the Obama era. The current DOJ supported Ohio in the case, while under President Barack Obama the department had argued that the state was unlawfully seeking to strip eligible voters from the rolls.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is running for lieutenant governor, praised the Supreme Court's ruling in a statement.

"Today’s decision is a victory for election integrity, and a defeat for those who use the federal court system to make election law across the country," Husted said. "This decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls and now with the blessing nation’s highest court, it can serve as a model for other states to use."