Secretary of State Husted reacts to Ohio "voter purging" Supreme - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Secretary of State Husted reacts to Ohio "voter purging" Supreme Court case

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The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on Wednesday regarding the way in which inactive voters are handled in Ohio. 

It's a debate over the way the state strikes the name of "inactive" voters from the rolls of citizens registered to vote in the state. 

According to Secretary of State Jon Husted, the process goes like this- if a voter does not vote for two years, they are sent a mailer, which is designed to ask a voter if they wish to remain registered to vote. If they do not respond, voters are given an additional four years to cast a ballot. At that point, if they still have not voted, they are stricken from the voter rolls. 

"We're following the state and federal laws that require us to maintain accurate voter rolls," said Husted. 

But civil rights groups, ethnic groups, and people with disabilities have joined forces, saying that Ohio, which has the strictest voter roll laws in the nation, is violating their constitutional right to vote. 

Opponents of what has been called "voter roll purging"  say that voters whose names are removed from the rolls with practically no warning, find themselves unable to vote. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the New York-based public advocacy group Demos sued Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted over the practice. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled last year that the process violates the national voting law.

Following that decision, a federal district court entered an injunction for the November 2016 presidential election that allowed more than 7,500 Ohio voters to cast a ballot.

But Secretary of State Husted says the goal is not to keep people from the polls. 

"When I got to office there were some counties, that had more voters on the voter rolls than they had actual adults living in the county. Clearly, you don't need to be a math whiz to know that that's not accurate," said Husted. "So what we do is to make reasonable efforts, you see we can't remove someone from the voter rolls or update their information, they have to do that themselves within that six-year period."

Husted continued saying: "For example, in Wood County where Bowling Green University is, they had more voters on the voter rolls than they had adults living in the county. Well, it makes sense it some cases because when a student graduates from Bowling Green University, I'm sure that the first thing they thought of was not to call the Board of Elections and ask them to remove them from the voter rolls." 

Husted says that's why the state has to be proactive in how they handle the state's voter rolls. 

"You have occasions where you have large quantities of people who are on the voter rolls who don't update themselves, so we have to take proactive measures to try to find those people to find out whether they still want to be registered at that address, and if not hopefully get them registered at the right address," he explained. 

Aside from voters who have moved out of the specific counties, or the state, Husted argues that keeping the voter rolls accurate means being able to keep the names of d3eceased voters from appearing on the voter rolls. 

"Look, we've removed almost 600,000 deceased voters from the voter rolls since I became Secretary of State," said Husted. "Without our proactive efforts, you'd have hundreds of thousands of deceased voters in the voter rolls. I don't think anyone in Ohio wants to see that happen." 

Opponents argue that the cost of purging the voter rolls, having voters caught unawares and unable to vote, outweighs any benefit. 

But Secretary Husted says that the benefits a threefold- "The administrative benefit is confidence that you don't have a bunch of people who are illegally on the voter rolls which undermines confidence in the election system. Also, for local governments, there are millions of dollars involved in having to send absentee ballots applications and do voter outreach for voters who have moved and are no longer at those particular addresses. It also shortens the lines at the polls on election day by not having a bunch of names in your voter rolls that shouldn't be there." 

For Husted, the matter has been fairly simple since he was elected. 

"It's election integrity, it's cost savings, and it's also the law," he argues. 

Those on the opposite side say that processes like purging the voter rolls leave an unfair disadvantage to minorities, ethnic groups, and the impoverished. 

Late last year, President Donald Trump's administration reversed the government's position on a voter roll case before the U.S. Supreme Court and is now backing Ohio's method for purging voters.

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