Common Cause Files Supreme Court Brief in Challenge to Ohio Voter Roll Purges

    Media Contact
  • David Vance

On Friday, Common Cause filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, in support of a challenge to Ohio’s aggressive voter roll purge program that stripped hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of their right to vote prior to the 2016 election. The brief focuses on a similar program in Georgia that also disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters and which Common Cause has challenged in court. The Husted brief emphasizes that the High Court’s decision will impact similar programs and millions of registered voters around the country.   

“Election officials should be working to make the ballot accessible to every eligible citizen, not gaming the system to purge the rolls for the benefit of their own party,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Voter roll purges, like gerrymanders, voter photo ID laws, and curbs on early voting, are brazen efforts by politicians to decide which citizens will vote in elections and which citizens will not.”

“This case has broad national implications that will impact the voting rights of millions of eligible American voters,” said Allegra Chapman, Common Cause Director of Voting and Elections. “These voter roll purges violate both the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act which prohibit removing voters from registration rolls for not voting. The Supreme Court has the opportunity to curb this voter suppression tactic by Ohio, by other states with similar laws, and by still more states watching this case as they consider passing their own.” 

In the program in question, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office sends notices to registered voters who have not voted in two years and if it is not mailed back those voters are removed from the rolls after four years if they have not cast a ballot. The two-year window means that skipping even a single election cycle can lead to targeting by the Secretary of State’s office. Ohio launched this program despite the fact that both the National Voter Registration Act (1993) and the Help America Vote Act (2002) prohibit states from removing voters from the rolls for not voting.

Common Cause’s suit against the Georgia Secretary of State for a program comparable to Ohio’s is on appeal is to the 11th Circuit.

Attorneys from the law firm of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore worked with Common Cause attorneys on the brief.

To read the Common Cause brief, click here.