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The Ohio voter purge case

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

I refer to the Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute case that was decided by SCOTUS on Monday. Here’s a long reading list if you want to get up to speed on it:

SCOTUSBlog
Pema Levy
Mark Joseph Stern
Kira Lerner

Daniel Nichanian
Josh Douglas
Dahlia Lithwick
Rick Hasen
Ian Millhiser
Ari Berman
Kevin Drum

Go ahead and peruse. I’ll wait.

All right. The coverage and analysis of this ruling focuses on Ohio, for the obvious reason that this is where the case came from, and also because, as Dahlia Lithwick puts it, Ohio is the “purgiest of all the purgey states”. There’s some discussion about how this ruling paints a roadmap for other states that are inclined to do what Ohio has been doing to follow, though as the Rick Hasen piece notes there’s also a potential roadmap for blocking such efforts in the courts. What I want to know, of course, is how this will and may affect Texas. To the best of my knowledge, this kind of voter roll updating/purging is done at the county level. We certainly saw various underhanded tricks here in Harris County, like sending notices to update one’s voter registration information to known old addresses, back in the Paul Bettencourt/Leo Vasquez/Don Sumners days, but with Ann Harris Bennett in office now it’s less of a concern.

So my question is, what role does our Secretary of State play in all this, and what opportunities does our SOS have to “assist” the county election admins/voter registrars in “cleaning up” their voter rolls? What does the SOS do now, and what could our Lege enable or direct it to do now that Husted is law? I don’t have the expertise to say, and the election law-minded folks on Facebook that I rely on have not had anything to say about this. It sure would be nice if one of our professional news-gathering organizations put someone on to this question.

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3 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    While not good, one has to not vote for a total of six years. Can’t say that those type of persons are suddenly going to go vote. Some of the other laws are much worse, like the one Texas has.

  2. voter_worker says:

    Two of the fifty states are operating in a different paradigm altogether which structurally sidesteps one of the essential factors leading states to use purging as a management mechanism. North Dakota does not have voter registration at all, and Oregon classifies all citizens residing within its borders as registered voters with an opt-out choice available for anyone who desires not to be a registered voter. Any other approach, no matter how well-intentioned, has discriminatory effect by default because of the multitude of life circumstances in which citizens find themselves. Not discussed in the two articles I perused, Lithwick’s and Hasen’s, is the bedrock fact that our system of geographic political entities, generally called “districts”, depends upon voters voting the ballot configuration that applies to the address at which they reside, so all states are attempting to effectively manage that requirement to ensure that a voter’s residence address and registration address match. This is why changing your residence and failing to update your voter registration record is such a big deal. Oregon and North Dakota have removed that as a trigger point for cancellation of a citizen’s ability to vote.

  3. C.L. says:

    Can’t get more than 58% of registers folks to vote in Presiential elections, anyway. Who cares if Ohio drops them off the rolls after six years of inactivity ? The folks being dropped probably weren’t going to vote anyway, even after a whole bunch of prodding and PSA’s. Snooze.