Washington — U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty last week introduced a bill that would bar states from removing voters from the voting rolls because they had not voted in recent previous elections.
Beatty’s bill was introduced on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, a high court decision that allowed the Ohio Secretary of State to remove voters from voter rolls if they had not voted during recent elections.
Beatty’s bill, the Save Voters Act, would bar states from purging potential voters based on their failure to vote or respond to a written notice, unless the notice is returned as undeliverable.
Her bill would also require states to inform voters when they are removed from the rolls and include the reason for removal and information on how to contest removal or be reinstated. And it would require states to send out a public notice within 48 hours of conducting any general program to remove names from the official list of eligible voters, informing the public that list maintenance is taking place and that registrants should check their voter status.
“The right to vote is not a ‘use-it or lose-it’ proposition. Rather, voting is a permanent guarantee that is essential to our democracy and fundamental to all the other rights we share as Americans,” Beatty, a Columbus-area Democrat, said. “The Supreme Court’s decision allowing the State of Ohio to continue its aggressive voter purge makes it much harder for Ohioans to vote—especially communities of color, veterans and vulnerable populations—and lays the groundwork for other states to prevent many more Americans from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote.”
Under current Ohio law, the Secretary of State can remove voters who have not voted in two years. The Secretary first sends voters a notice informing them they haven’t voted in two years and, if they don’t return that notice or don’t vote in the next four years, than that voter is automatically struck from the rolls.