TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way released the following statement disagreeing with yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, upholding Ohio’s voter registration purge policy:
“I find the Supreme Court ruling in this case troubling. Allowing voters to be removed because they missed voting in a single election cycle is discriminatory. Regardless of today’s decision, New Jersey will continue the important work of protecting voters’ rights.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ohio’s process for removing individuals from voter rolls in the state is legal, going against voting rights groups who had argued that the state ignored protections for voters outlined under federal law. The groups argued that the state’s purge process, which could be initiated after a voter missed a single federal election, violated the National Voter Registration Act.
At the heart of this case is a 1994 Ohio state law that authorizes the Secretary of State to implement a “supplementary process” to remove voters who go two years without voting activities (e.g. voting and/or updating their personal contact information) and sending those voters a notice. If that notice is not returned or the voter does not vote in the subsequent four years, then that voter is automatically struck from the rolls. Independent analysis has found this policy to be especially harmful to at-risk Ohioans, people of color, veterans and students.
Husted v. APRI is one example of the fights now happening across the country against unfair voter purge practices. Irresponsible purges could be a significant threat facing voters in the November midterm elections, although this will not be a risk in New Jersey, as it is not one of the states participating in the purging practices at the heart of the Ohio case.