Just weeks before the Nov. 8 election, a federal appeals court has ruled that Ohio’s method of purging names of inactive voters from voter rolls is unconstitutional.
Ohio, a battleground state in the presidential race, removed the names of tens of thousands of registered voters under what it calls its “supplemental process.”
Under this controversial method, voters were taken off the registration rolls after six years of not voting, regardless of whether they remained eligible to vote.
As ABC News reported in June, many of those removed were from low-income neighborhoods or neighborhoods that tended to vote Democrat.
Voting-rights activists argued that this method of removing voters directly violates the National Voter Registration Act, which says states can only remove voters from the rolls if they request it, die or move.
Ohio’s top elections official, Secretary of State Jon Husted, defended the practice as necessary to keep registration rolls up to date and to prevent fraud.
Public policy organization Demos and the ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against Husted, asking that the court halt the purging process and reinstate voters’ names that had been purged. The suit alleged that a much larger number of infrequent Ohio voters are expected in this year’s contentious presidential election. Advocates claimed that these voters would be “denied the opportunity to cast a vote that counts.”
On Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs, reversing a lower court decision in favor of Husted. The appeals court remanded the case to the district court to design a remedy.