On June 11, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a controversial Ohio purge practice in a 5-4 decision called Husted vs. A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI). Under the challenged law, voters in Ohio who miss a single federal election will be flagged for a process that could ultimately end in removal from the rolls. Under the process, a flagged voter must be sent a forwardable address-confirmation notice. If there is no response, and the voter does not have any election-related activity for two federal elections, the state could then remove them from the voter rolls.
APRI, a labor and civil rights group represented by Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Ohio, first challenged Ohio’s process in district court on April 6, 2016. APRI argued the law violated the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) that prohibited voter removals from the rolls on account of failing to vote. The Brennan Center, represented by the law firm Arnold and Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, filed an amicus brief with the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the League of Women Voters of the United States in support of the plaintiffs, arguing that missing one federal election is an unreliable indicator that a voter has moved or is otherwise ineligible to vote.
Ohio is one of only six states that initiates the removal process based on the failure to vote, and the only state that does so based on a single federal election.
The U.S. Department of Justice had previously supported APRI’s challenge, but switched its position in August 2016 to support the state. The district court ruled in Ohio’s favor on June 29, 2016 before being reversed by the Sixth Circuit on September 23, 2016. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in February 2017 and reversed the Sixth Circuit on June 11, 2018.
Appeals Court Documents
- Opinion Reversing District Court (09/23/16)
Supreme Court Documents