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Justice Department changes position, supports OH in voter purge case

10 August, 2017, 00:11 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Voter wait in line outside a polling place at the Nativity School on Election Day Tuesday Nov. 8 2016 in Cincinnati

JOHNSON: Last year when Gupta ran the civil rights unit, the Obama Justice Department sided with people who sued OH over its purge.

Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law called the OH purges "a critical voting rights case" and said the department's reversal is "the latest example of an agency whose leadership has lost its moral compass".

The department argued in an amicus brief that Ohio's voter purges, which have disproportionately hit Democrats and African Americans, are lawful.

Justin Levitt, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's civil rights division who worked on the OH case during the Obama administration, wrote a blog on Monday, calling the reversal from the Justice Department unusual.

"The law hasn't changed since the department accurately told the court that Ohio's voter purge was unlawful", Clarke said in statement.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: The key issue in the case is when states can purge their lists of registered voters.

Husted has argued that the policy removes voters from the rolls to ensure the integrity of elections.

However, criticisms of the Trump administration's Justice Department aren't limited to this recent shift in policy, which follows a number of other voter-related measures that have been criticized as attacks on voting rights. And for conservatives like him, it's a matter of election integrity. Voting advocates said the move lays the groundwork for massive voter purges across the country.

The case in OH is not the first time the Justice Department has reversed course in a major legal battle over voting rights.

Husted welcomed the Justice Department's position.

The Texas law, passed in 2011, required that voters present certain forms of identification, such as a driver's license or a weapons permit, but the state did not allow other forms, including IDs issued by colleges.

The government's filing said it reconsidered its position following the change in administrations.

The Justice Department's brief on Monday argued that OH is not removing voters only for their initial failure to vote. The suit said that thousands of voters have been illegally removed from voter rolls, and that the rule disproportionately impacts minorities and poor people.

"I remain confident that once the justices review this case they will rule to uphold the decades-old process that both Republicans and Democrats have used in OH to maintain our voter rolls as consistent with federal law", Husted said.

Ohio's process involves a three-part test that starts with voters who haven't cast ballots in two years, then fail to respond to a notice trying to verify their address, and then fail to vote for an additional period of two federal elections. The administration of President Barack Obama had opposed Ohio's action. The facts haven't changed. "Only the leadership of the Department has changed". The Justice Department declined to comment. Harmon was allowed to cast a ballot in the November presidential election.

The brief defends the process by noting that multiple steps are required before a voter is removed from the rolls. "After a registrant has failed to respond to notices and not vote in multiple elections, they may be cleaned from the rolls". OH law would then, they argue, violate the law by removing someone's registration with no evidence that they have actually moved addresses.

Adams, a conservative voter fraud prosecutor and former DOJ lawyer, disagrees with multiple studies showing there's no proof the US election system is plagued by widespread chicanery.



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