General Civil Liberties Press Release

08.08.17

ACLU Response to Department of Justice’s Position Reversal in Support of Ohio’s Voter Purge

Voting Rights

CLEVELAND, OH — Following the Department of Justice filing an amicus brief in support of Ohio’s Supplemental Process, the ACLU of Ohio released a statement regarding the impact of this unfortunate position reversal in the Husted v. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) case. The statement can be attributed to ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson:

“This abrupt reversal by the Department of Justice goes against its decades-long position that consistently held voter purges to be illegal under the National Voter Registration Act. The DOJ has completely abandoned its own opinion that it recently submitted to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in this very case when it weighed in on the side of the ACLU to say the purge was unlawful. The facts of this case have not changed since this ruling; there is no reason for the DOJ to depart from the extremely important principle at issue in this case. Allowing these purges will keep eligible voters away from the ballot. The DOJ’s support for Ohio’s illegal voter purge process is a direct threat to voting rights, and it is crucial that the Supreme Court uphold the 6th Circuit’s decision and protect the voting rights of all eligible voters.”

About Husted v. APRI:

Ohio has a practice of targeting voters who fail to vote in a two-year period for eventual removal from the voter roll – even if the voters have not moved and are still fully eligible to vote. This practice, known as the Supplemental Process, resulted in the removal of thousands of Ohioans from the voter rolls in 2015 alone.

After a lawsuit was brought by APRI, NEOCH, and Mr. Harmon challenging the Supplemental Process, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in September 2016 and struck down Ohio’s controversial purge of infrequent voters from its voter rolls, finding that Ohio’s Supplemental Process violates the NVRA.

Based on the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, the federal district court entered an injunction for the November 2016 presidential election to protect the voting rights of persons affected by Ohio’s unlawful purge process. More than 7,500 eligible Ohio voters were able to cast a ballot and have it counted because of the court’s order. All of these were eligible voters who would have been denied their right to vote under Ohio’s unlawful process, if the Sixth Circuit had not acted to invalidate Ohio’s improper practices.

 

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More information on Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) v. Husted