In a terrible blow to American democracy, the Supreme Court today overturned a ruling by a lower court which had decided that the efforts by Republicans in Ohio to purge their voter rolls of “infrequent” voters were in violation of the 1993 Voter Registration Act.
Neil Gorsuch, the Trump nominee whose Supreme Court seat was stolen from President Obama in one of the most egregious acts of political malpractice our nation has ever seen, was the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision that drew a scathing rebuttal from Justice Sotomayer:
— Celeste Katz (@CelesteKatzNYC) June 11, 2018
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The suit was filed in 2016 by the ACLU and liberal advocacy group Demos against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who they accused of illegally purging thousands of names from voter rolls — names which happened to belong to the poor and to racial minorities, purposefully disenfranchising those who pose the biggest threat to Republican candidates.
Ohio law dictates that if a person doesn’t vote every two years, a confirmation notice is sent to them and if they don’t respond – or don’t receive the notice, due to moving or whatever reason – and don’t vote in the next cycle, they’ve kicked off the rolls for good.
The ruling is a severe blow to American voting rights, essentially greenlighting the efforts of red states to kick minorities and poor people off voter rolls en masse and further entrench Republican political majorities in their gerrymandered districts.
Alito's decision is anti-textualist, warping the plain meaning of the Motor Voter Act to allow precisely the kind of voter purge procedure it was passed to forbid. The law expressly *prohibits* a "use it or lose it"-type law to punish infrequent voters. pic.twitter.com/PeUs9Qaevl
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 11, 2018
The ruling makes the need to pass an automatic voter registration act all the more pressing.
Taking substantial efforts to improve people’s ability to vote, like automatic registration and a national holiday for Election Day, needs to be the first thing on the next Democratic President’s to-do list.