Ohio may be illegally purging thousands of citizens from its registration rolls. That is what a new lawsuit is alleging, according to a recent article published on MSNBC. Ohio is always a key battleground state in presidential election and may once again be the deciding factor in November.
Ohio currently cancels the registration of people who don’t vote in three successive federal elections, or any of the intervening local elections — a procedure known as the Supplemental Process. Last year, around 40,000 people were removed from the rolls of Ohio’s largest county, Cuyahoga, a Democratic stronghold. Stuart Naifeh, a lawyer with Demos, said that suggests “tens or hundreds of thousands” of people were removed statewide last year alone.
“We have spoken to purged voters from around the state of Ohio who tried to vote in the November 2015 local election and were turned away,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, in a statement. “The already widespread disenfranchisement that has resulted from this process is likely to be much worse in a presidential election year.”
The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Ohio and Demos, a voting rights organization, on behalf of two Ohio-based community groups, claims that the practice violates the National Voter Registration Act, known as Motor Voter. Motor Voter bars states from using a process that leads to people being removed solely for failing to vote, without any other reason to believe a person has moved. The suit also says Ohio’s use of the Supplemental Process is unnecessary, because the state also uses change-of-address data provided by the Postal Service to remove voters who move.
According to Naifeh, an analysis of Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, found that voters were disproportionately removed from the registration rolls in black and Hispanic communities.