A. Philip Randolph Institute challenges another state anti-voting law, in Ohio

WASHINGTON —Fresh off its big win at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it joined other civil rights groups in overturning North Carolina’s infamous anti-African American “voter ID” law, the A. Philip Randolph Institute is going after yet another state’s restriction, in Ohio.

The catch in this case is that APRI and its allies won in federal appeals court, but the High Court could reverse that course. So this time, APRI wants the justices to toss out Ohio’s law, or uphold the appeals court ruling that did so.

Whether APRI and its allies will win that argument will be up to the nine justices, though. Four justices, the minimum needed to vote to hear a case, decided on May 30 to tackle the Ohio voter purge in the next Supreme Court term, which starts in October.

Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted – its top elections official and a 2018 gubernatorial hopeful – touched off the controversy. Ironically, he cited the 1993 federal Motor Voter law, and planned to purge Ohio voter rolls before, literally, each general election.

Husted tried to do so in 2016. But Cleveland voter Larry Harmon, APRI – which is the AFL-CIO constituency group for African-American workers – the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Demos and the ACLU took him to court and won in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Husted then asked the High Court to take the case.

When the justices do so, APRI and its allies want the court to turn Ohio down. The 6th Circuit’s ruling against Ohio’s quick purges “was correct,” APRI and its allies said. Motor Voter “prohibits any voter-list maintenance program for federal elections that “results in removal of the name of any person from the official list of voters…by reason of the person’s failure to vote.

“This reflects the basic principle that, just as every eligible voter has the constitutional right to vote, each one also has the right not to cast a vote – and the mere exercise of that right should not be the basis for removal from the voter rolls,” APRI adds.

Under Motor Voter, “failure to vote may play only a narrow and carefully circumscribed role: Only after a state receives an independent and affirmative indication a voter may have moved, such as a change of address filed with the U.S. Postal Service,” can Ohio – or any other state – send remove the voter, usually after waiting two election cycles (four years).

But under Ohio’s “Supplemental Process” that Husted invoked, a voter’s failure to vote during a two-year period – a single election cycle – “is the trigger for a change-of-address confirmation process that results in the voter’s removal from the registration list unless the voter” responds during the next four years, APRI and its allies said.

“Because of Ohio’s flawed process, thousands of eligible Ohio voters would have been denied their fundamental right to vote in the November 2016 general election” if the appeals court hadn’t stopped Husted from enforcing his purge law then, APRI and its allies said.  An APRI spokesman said the supplemental process purged 40,000 voters from Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) alone in 2015, and virtually all were minority-group members.

Source: PAI