The state also contends that the impact is exaggerated by opponents, noting only 7,515 voters had their rights restored in 2016 as a result of the lawsuit. Now Justice wants the Court to side with the state and interpret Ohio's "trigger" as not being a "removal" in the statutory sense.
JON HUSTED: We believe our state is one where we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. A ruling for OH could prompt other states to adopt the practice, which often pits Democrats against Republicans.
Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, notably struggled to explain why the U.S. Department of Justice switched positions on Ohio's purges under president Trump.
Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan were as critical of the OH law as Sotomayor.
"The main split that I would expect to see isn't really conservative or liberal, it's space to states and not space to states", Levitt said. But it also encourages states to clean up the voting rolls by removing individuals who have moved, died or otherwise lost eligibility to vote at their registered addresses. "That's the reason. What we're talking about are the best tools to implement. that objective".
"What should the state do?" he asked.
He said many of those dropped from the rolls first learn they're not registered when they show up to vote and are turned away. "The inevitable result is that OH erroneously purges voters who haven't moved, who remain eligible to vote, but who may end up being disenfranchised".
OH denied that is what it does.
But the court's conservative justices did not appear anxious about the program's fairness or the rights of voters who choose not to cast a ballot. As Ari Berman wrote in The Nation after the Court took the case, "From 2011 to 2016, OH purged 2 million voters from the rolls-1.2 million for infrequent voting-more than any other state".
Under Ohio's system, a voter who does not vote in a two-year period is sent a notice. If there is no response and if they do not vote for another four years, they are stricken from the rolls. She also questioned why the Department of Justice, which argued for 10 minutes in support of OH, switched positions in the litigation.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the OH procedure would have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities and homeless people and was part of a broader movement that has reduced turnout in parts of the state. That idea drew pushback from Roberts, who suggested the US might benefit from a law like the one in Australia requiring people to vote. About 70 percent of people who receive notices from the state don't return them, he said.
One of the challengers, for instance, is Larry Harmon of Akron. It sends a notice to those individuals, informing them of their inactivity.
So far, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has sided against OH on this crucial voting rights case, issuing an injunction that ultimately allowed 7,500 OH voters who would have been denied their right to vote to cast a ballot in the 2016 election.
Justice Samuel Alito came to the state's defense. Alito asked, with the emphasis on "solely".
"The failure to vote during two years tells you nearly nothing if the person has moved", he argued.
"If voting is easy sir, why is a US veteran like me being removed from the rolls?" he asked. You can use driver license, motor vehicle change of addresses. Harmon, for instance, continued to pay property taxes on the same address.
That issue formed the majority of Smith's time at the lectern, with Smith arguing that the state not receiving the notice back tells "nothing" about whether the person moved.
The Randolph Institute argues OH is looking at its voter-registration process wrong.
Sotomayor wanted Francisco to explain the government's change from supporting challengers when the case was heard in the appeals court, and supporting OH now. He said if Smith's interpretation of the NVRA was correct, it would outlaw any state that used a nonvoting as a factor for purging. We give nine experts a job for life just so they can figure out the answers to these exact questions.
You're, again, fooling yourself if you think the Supreme Court case will be anything more than a vote based on which outcomes the Justices favor.
The plaintiffs in the OH case include Larry Harmon, a software engineer and U.S. Navy veteran who was blocked from voting in a 2015 marijuana initiative, and an advocacy group for homeless people.