Justices will hear Ohio appeal over purging voter rolls

Voters cast their votes on November 8, 2016 in Elyria, Ohio during the U.S. presidential election. Credit: REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether Ohio wrongfully purged eligible voters from the state's registration list.

The justices said they will hear an appeal from state officials defending the process against challengers who say it's illegal.

Civil liberties groups had challenged the state's program for removing thousands of people from voter rolls based on their failure to vote in recent elections. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled last year that the process violates the National Voter Registration Act.

Ohio officials argue that the process used by Ohio for more than 20 years is constitutional and fully complies with state and federal laws.

[READ MORE: Why Ohio has purged at least 200,000 from the voter rolls]

Groups challenging the practice said Ohio was unfairly disenfranchising eligible Ohio voters.

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 last year.

Following the appeals court ruling, 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.

Freda Levenson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio, said purging voters simply because they have exercised their right not to vote is a form of voter suppression.

"We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the correct decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and will ultimately ensure that eligible Ohio voters may not be stricken from the rolls," she said.

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