By Peter Parisi
The Daily Signal
(August 24, 2017)
When Republicans went to the White House early in Barack Obama’s presidency to negotiate specifics of an economic stimulus bill, Obama reminded them that his policy preferences must prevail because “elections have consequences.”
“At the end of the day, I won,” he told them. “So, I think on that one, I trump you.”
Of course, when he said that, Obama couldn’t possibly have foreseen the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, but seldom has an election been more consequential.
That elections have consequences was further underscored when Trump rightly reversed course on a misinterpretation of a 1993 law by the previous administration. That law, the National Voter Registration Act, reformed the nation’s voter registration process.
Having reversed course, the Justice Department is now siding with Ohio in its legitimate efforts to clean up its voter rolls. That would not have happened under President Hillary Clinton, so elections do in fact have consequences.
The integrity of elections in Ohio will be significantly enhanced if the Supreme Court this fall upholds, as it should, the process the state uses. In the appellate court, the Obama administration predictably had sided with Democrats and allied liberal groups seeking to prevent the Buckeye State from removing tens of thousands of voters from the state’s rolls after they were deemed to be “inactive.”
Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief filed with the high court on Aug. 7 that, since Trump took office, they have re-evaluated the case.
They concluded that the 1993 law (widely known as the “motor voter” law) does not prohibit procedures like those used in Ohio, contrary to the deliberate misinterpretation of the law by the Obama Justice Department.
The Buckeye State has been mailing address-verification notices to voters who didn’t cast a ballot during a two-year period to ascertain whether they had moved, died, or otherwise were no longer eligible to vote and asking them to reconfirm their status.
If they failed to respond, and subsequently didn’t vote over the following four years, their names could be removed from the rolls.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who defends the six-year process as fair and reasonable, hailed the Justice Department’s about-face.
“Maintaining the integrity of the voter rolls is essential to conducting an election with efficiency and integrity,” he said after the Supreme Court announced May 30 that it would hear Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute in its upcoming term.
That case is the state’s appeal of a wrongheaded ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ignored the Justice Department’s long history of enforcing the law in other states consistent with Ohio’s practices prior to the Obama administration.
Husted, a Republican, told The Washington Post that since taking office in January 2011, nearly 560,000 deceased Ohioans have been removed from the voter rolls.