In a 5-4 decision that almost certainly would’ve gone the other way had Merrick Garland been rightfully appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Alito has written an opinion upholding Ohio (and other states’ rights) to purge voter rolls of those who have not voted recently.
Ohio has purged 2 million voters since 2011. Blacks are twice as likely to be purged as whites.
The case in question, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph, involved a voter who had lived at the same residence for 16 years. However, after failing to vote for two consecutive years, the voter received a notice asking if he moved. His failure to respond to that notice meant that he could be purged from the voter rolls. In Ohio, voters do not even have to be notified that they’ve been removed from the voter rolls — they might learn for the first time when they show up at the polls to vote.
In other words, in order to maintain one’s registration, voters now must vote every year or respond to a notice asking if a voter has moved. Obviously, few people respond to these notices (sounds like something I would bin immediately), and sometimes people don’t vote because they’re busy working to support their families and, especially in larger cities, the line to vote often takes hours to navigate.
The ruling opens the door for states (especially those with GOP Governors) to more aggressively purge voter rolls, making it even more difficult for underrepresented minorities to make their voices heard.
How do we combat this? By swimming upstream, double-checking our registrations, and voting a Democrat in power who can ultimately pass a stronger Voting Rights Act, one impenetrable to Supreme Court interference.