Fed appellate court says Ohio voter purge violates election law

By Marc Kovac



The 6th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the state violated federal election law with its method for removing people from the voter rolls, remanding the case for further consideration.

The result was met with cheers Friday from voting-rights advocates, who have been critical of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and the way the state purged formerly eligible voters.

“Today’s decision is a victory for voters, voting rights and common sense,” State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, said in a statement. “Husted must stop illegally purging eligible and registered voters. Now, Ohioans who are registered and show up to vote can be confident that their ballots will be counted instead of thrown out.”

Husted, in a separate statement, said the decision could be appealed.

“It is one thing to strike down a long-standing procedure; it is another to craft a workable remedy,” he said. “To that end, if the final resolution requires us to reinstate voting eligibility to individuals who have died or moved out of Ohio, we will appeal.”

In the past, elections officials have sent postcards to voters who have moved or who have “not engaged in any ‘voter activity’ for two years,” to confirm their residence and voting status, according to documents.

Those who did not respond and or vote in the subsequent two even-year elections were removed from the rolls.

According to documents, “… A voter is purged from the rolls after six years of inactivity – even if he or she did not move or otherwise remains eligible to vote.”

Husted has said that, under his administration, dead people and duplicate names have been removed from the rolls as part of efforts to update the state’s voter database.

But the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and others filed suit to block the secretary of state’s office from purging eligible voters.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, in a statement, said, “No one should show up at their polling place on Election Day to find out their name has been removed from the voting rolls simply because they have not voted recently. Imagine if there were time limits on Ohioans’ ability to exercise freedom of speech or other constitutionally protected rights.”