Ohio’s Junk Mail Trick Led the Supreme Court to Approve Jim Crow Voter Purge

Monday’s Supreme Court decision blessing Ohio’s removal of half a million voters was ultimately decided on the issue of a postcard.

Now that little postcard threatens the voting rights of millions—but it can be reversed.

The instant-news media, working from press releases, not the Supreme Court’s decision itself, said that Husted, Ohio Secretary of State v. A. Philip Randolph Institute was about whether Ohio has the right to remove voters who failed to cast ballots in two federal election cycles.

Nope.

Even the Court’s right-wing majority concedes that federal law strictly forbids removing voters because they skipped some elections. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 states that a voter purge program “shall not result in the removal of the name of any person … by reason of the person’s failure to vote.”

But here’s the trick: In 2002, the George W. Bush administration ginned up the Help America Vote Act. When a Bush tells you he’s going to “help” you vote, look out. Yet, naïve Democrats passed the act into law. The Help America Vote Act is filled with buried land mines that are still exploding.

Monday’s decision is one of those land mines. The Help America Vote Act, the Court concluded, blew open a giant loophole in the National Voter Registration Act’s protections. The trick is that Ohio does not remove voters simply because they missed a few elections. According to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:

Ohio uses a registrant’s failure to vote [only] to identify that registrant as a person whose address has likely changed.

The Court takes note that Ohio claims it had evidence that, in 2012, a whopping 1.5 million voters — an astronomical 20 percent of its total voter base — had moved their residence out of Ohio or moved from their county voting area. The 1.5 million voters were sent postcards asking them to confirm their mailing address.

It was a voter’s failure to return the postcard that cost them their…

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