Speed Reads

Voting Rights

Supreme Court to hear Ohio voter purge case

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a case challenging Ohio's policy of purging infrequent voters from its registration rolls. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ohio's policy of dropping voters who don't vote regularly but are otherwise eligible violates federal law, siding with the American Civil Liberties Union and Demos over Ohio's Republican government. The Obama administration had sided with the plaintiffs but the Trump administration changed sides and is backing Ohio in the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling in late June, and if it sides with Ohio, other states would probably enact similar voter policies. Seventeen states, most of them led by Republicans, are backing Ohio in the case, while 12 mostly Democratic states want the justices to rule Ohio's law unconstitutional. A Reuters analysis in 2016 found that Ohio was purging about twice as many voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods versus GOP-leaning neighborhoods in Ohio's three largest counties, and if the Sixth Circuit appellate court hadn't intervened, more than 7,500 eligible voters wouldn't have been able to cast ballots in 2016.

The Supreme Court is also considering two other voting rights cases this term, gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland.