In the never-ending fight to curry favor from President Donald Trump, members of the president’s cabinet have worked tirelessly to undo every bit of progress made by former President Barack Obama’s administration.
The latest steps backward have come from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice, who’ve been consistently rolling back Obama-era voting rights rulings.
So far the DOJ has decided it no longer opposes Texas’ highly restrictive voter ID law nor mandatory arbitration agreements put in place to prevent class action lawsuits, but now the department is having another change of heart.
The DOJ on Monday dropped its previous position against Ohio’s voter purging, which removes voters from the rolls if they don’t vote in an election. In a swift 180, the DOJ now says that voter purging is perfectly legal.
Ohio’s voter purging procedures will be discussed at length next term when the Supreme Court hears a case on the matter, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. The state has so far removed up to 2 million people from the voting booths over the past five years, and studies show that voters from neighborhoods that lean Democratic have been twice as likely to be purged.
Cleaning up the voting rolls is a regular occurrence in most states, but the Ohio procedure is particularly aggressive and swift, targeting any and all individuals who haven’t recently casted a ballot.
Out of 2 million purged voters around 1.2 million were removed for infrequent voting.
The problem is that federal law specifically prohibits voter purging in the case of irregular voting – i.e. voters have a right to decide when they’d like to vote and when they’d prefer not to.
That law is the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which stated that voter registration maintenance “shall not result in the removal of the name of any person from the official list of voters registered to vote in an election for Federal office by reason of the person’s failure to vote.”
Nevertheless, the DOJ under Sessions seems ready to stop at nothing to restrict the opposition by any means necessary.