California asks Supreme Court to tell Ohio: ‘Do as I say, not as I do’

California asks Supreme Court to tell Ohio: ‘Do as I say, not as I do’
© Getty Images

This Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear an important election law case. In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the court will balance the competing interests of easy access to voting verses the need for election integrity.

To maintain accurate voter rolls, Ohio sends a notice to voters who have not voted in the past two years. If the voter does not respond and does not vote in the next two federal elections, Ohio removes the voter from its voter rolls. The respondents allege that this violates federal law since Ohio is removing voters because they have failed to vote.

ADVERTISEMENT
California joined with New York, 10 other states, and District of Columbia to encourage the Supreme Court to strike down Ohio’s practice of removing voters who have stopped voting and have failed to respond to the state’s notice. Their brief informs the court of many things that Ohio could do instead to clean its registration rolls.

 

The fact that California has the audacity to tell Ohio how to clean voter rolls is laughable. Judicial Watch just sued California for having more registered voters than eligible voters. California has over 101 percent voter registration. The lawsuit alleges that California is not following federal law by properly removing ineligible voters from the voter rolls.

California clearly has not figured out how to clean up its own registration rolls, so it should not be lecturing Ohio. California argues that, “[T]here is no pressing reason for States [sic] to use voter inactivity as a trigger for deregistration in light of a broad array of better methods that they may employ to identify voters who have in fact changed their residence.”

However, while California is telling Ohio not to clean up its voter rolls just because a voter has not voted in at least three federal elections, California has a similar law on its books. California Election Code 2224 states:

“If a voter has not voted in an election within the preceding four years, and his or her residence address, name, or party preference has not been updated during that time, the county elections official may send an alternate residency confirmation postcard. ... The postcard ... shall be in substantially the following form: ... If confirmation has not been received within 15 days, you may be required to provide proof of your residence address in order to vote at future elections.”

California is hypocritical for telling Ohio that it can clean its voter rolls by joining Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), something that California refuses to do. California is hypocritical for telling Ohio to use data from the state taxing authority, something that California does not do. California is hypocritical for telling Ohio to compare voter registration rolls with census lists, something that California does not do.

California no longer requires voters to show ID to vote, to the detriment of its citizens. A voter shared with me that in 2016 someone had signed her father-in-law’s name and voted for him. Her father-in-law has been dead for many years. Another voter informed me her family cannot get her dead aunt removed from the voter rolls. The county refuses to do so because her aunt has faithfully voted in every election over the last 10 years.

Last year, a Harvard University study found that of the 28 western democracies, the United States ranks last when it comes to election integrity. It is important to have fair and free elections. It is important to make sure that someone is not prevented from voting who is entitled to vote.

As Landmark Legal stated in its brief, “All citizens have both the civil right to have their vote cast and counted without dilution by illegal votes ... and the civil responsibility to keep their own registrations current.” Citizens are required to renew their driver's licenses from time to time; it should not be a constitutional crisis for voters to renew their voter registrations from time to time.

It is important to keep our voter rolls clean, to make it harder for people to vote multiple times. It is a bedrock principle of this country that each citizen is entitled to one vote.

Mark Meuser is a California attorney and the Republican candidate for California secretary of state. He focuses on constitutional and election law issues, and was involved with presidential election recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016. Follow him on Twitter @MarkMeuser.