Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute
Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) is a voting rights case challenging Ohio’s unlawful purge practices. Plaintiffs are arguing that Ohio is violating federal law by using an individual’s failure to vote in one federal election as a trigger to initiate removal from the voter rolls. The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the League of Women Voters of the United States, and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law filed a friend of the court brief in support of the plaintiffs.
The groups argue that the Buckeye State’s purge process defies voter protections outlined in Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act. The law and Congress’ past precedent on the subject explicitly guards against removing voters based on assumptions that they might have moved without adequate confirmation, like Ohio has done. And, the groups note that the state is an outlier in its aggressiveness and lack of clarity in notices to voters.
In Ohio, an individual’s failure to vote over a two-year period, including missing a single federal election, can start a removal process from the voter rolls. The inactive voter is sent an address-confirmation notice, and if they fail to respond or fail to vote over the next four years, they can be purged. The national and state League, and the Brennan Center, say it’s unreasonable and unlawful to infer that a voter moved or is otherwise ineligible to vote from one missed federal election. These groups say the state doesn’t make it clear voters need to respond to the removal notice, even though a voter who fails to respond risks being kicked off the rolls.
APRI, a labor and civil rights group, challenged the process in the district court on April 6, 2016. Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Ohio represent APRI. On June 29, 2016, the federal district ruled in favor of Ohio. The U.S. Department of Justice had previously supported APRI’s challenge, but switched its position in early August to support the state.
APRI appealed to the Sixth Circuit. On September 23, 2016, the court of appeals reversed, concluding that Ohio’s process impermissibly uses failure to vote as a “trigger” for initiating removal—in violation of the NVRA.
Appeals Court Documents
- Opinion Reversing District Court (09/23/16)
Supreme Court Documents