Dem senators introduce bill to ban controversial voter purges
A little more than a week after the Supreme Court upheld a controversial policy in Ohio that allows the state to purge who it deems inactive voters, a pair of Democratic senators introduced a bill aimed at stopping the practice.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Wednesday introduced the Save Voters Act, a bill that would amend the National Voter Registration Act and clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote or respond to a state notice as cause for removing them from voter rolls.
“This bill will restore the rights of voters and uphold the integrity of our election process,” Brown said in a statement. “We need to make it easier, not harder, for Ohioans to vote and make their voices heard.”
The bill comes in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling earlier this month that upheld Ohio’s “use it or lose it” policy, known as the supplemental process.
Under the policy, voters who have not voted in two years are flagged and sent a confirmation notice. Voters who do not respond to the notice and don’t vote within the next two years are then removed from the rolls.
Klobuchar said the court’s decision would make it more difficult for Americans to vote.
Left-leaning groups like Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union have argued that the practice disproportionately affects people of color and low-income voters — two groups that have traditionally lower voter turnout.
“We should be doing everything we can to encourage participation in elections and strengthen voting rights, yet last week’s Supreme Court decision will allow states to make it harder — not easier — for more Americans to vote,” she said.
“This legislation will ensure voters, especially minority, low-income, disabled, and veteran voters who are disproportionately affected by voter purges are allowed to participate in our democracy without the hurdle of re-registering.”
Six other states — Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — have similar voter purge practices, though Ohio’s is the most severe.