The U.S. Justice Department has taken an unusual move in reversing its position on a high-profile US.
In a court filing Monday, four DOJ attorneys wrote that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) allows states like OH to remove voters from the rolls after it sends them a notice alerting them that they will be purged. But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), a conservative who has helped to spread the myth of voter fraud, appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which decided at the end of May to take up the case next term.
The Trump administration will support the state of OH in its bid to revive a state policy that purges voters from voter rolls if they do not regularly cast ballots, a reversal from the Obama administration's stance on the case. If they do not respond to the notices and continue to not vote over the next four years, they are removed from the rolls. He entered his Monday brief on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union, having previously filed one as a representative of PILF in 2016. The investigation also found that in Ohio's major cities, including Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, voters have been removed from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at about twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods.
The Trump administration supports Ohio's policy of kicking people off the voter registration rolls if they go six years without casting a ballot - which has led hundreds of thousands of people to lose their voting eligibility.
"The Department of Justice's latest reversal of its position in a critical voting rights case represents just the latest example of an agency whose leadership has lost its moral compass".
A brief filed by the Justice Department under former President Barack Obama supported the civil rights groups in the lawsuit, arguing that under the NVRA, US states "must have reliable evidence indicating a voter's change of address before they initiate the NVRA-prescribed process to cancel the voter's registration based on a change of residence".
"The law hasn't changed since the Department accurately told the Court that Ohio's voter purge was unlawful".
Many states wait for an indication that a voter may have moved before turning to the NVRA process, but states such as OH send a notice "to voters who lack voter activity over two years, and removes individuals from the rolls if they both fail to respond to the notice and fail to engage in voter activity for four more years".
However, criticisms of the Trump administration's Justice Department aren't limited to this recent shift in policy, which follows a number of other voter-related measures that have been criticized as attacks on voting rights. The facts of the case didn't change, but the person in charge at the White House did. He said the method of removing inactive voters has been used by both Republicans and Democrats to clear the rolls of people who have moved away or died. "Only the leadership of the Department has changed", said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "That letter suggested that the Department of Justice is gearing up for enforcement actions that could lead to states engaging in list maintenance activities that, if done improperly, could disenfranchise eligible voters".
"This case is about maintaining the integrity of our elections, something that will be harder to do if elections officials are not able to properly maintain the voter rolls", Husted said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
VANITA GUPTA: This case will have a significant impact on what states believe they can do in order to purge voters off of the rolls. He says everyone agrees elections run more smoothly when the voter rolls are clean.