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Why Dems continue to fight voter purge

DEAR EDITOR:

The Tribune Chronicle awarded an Onion to the Ohio Democratic Party after it filed a lawsuit to stop Secretary of State Frank LaRose from kicking hundreds of thousands of Ohioans off voter rosters. The suit was filed after the Democrats learned the process included thousands of voters who shouldn’t be purged, including some who voted just last November.

Ohio is literally the only state purging voters who have missed only two elections and then failed to return a response card to the Elections Commission.

Ohio previously mailed notices to 1.5 million voters, representing 20 percent of Ohio’s voters. Response cards were returned by approximately 500,000 voters, so the state justifies its removal of those who didn’t.

The lawsuit asks in part for a manual review of each voter’s history before they are purged, as recommended in the federal National Voter Registration Rights Acts of 1965 and 1993.

The Supreme Court last year decided by a majority opinion of the five conservative justices that the purging may continue because it does not technically violate federal legislation. The Court opinion written by Justice Alito garnered two dissents to this decision. Justice Breyer, joined by his fellow liberal justices, wrote that a person should not be purged simply for skipping two elections that might occur within a single presidential election cycle. He speculated that many voters failed to return cards because they tossed them out as junk mail.

Justice Sotomayor’s separate dissent theorized that the purge targeted those demographically less likely to return the response cards, including minority or poor voters. She saw the system as one of the Republicans’ “concerted state efforts to prevent minorities from voting and to undermine the efficacy of their votes,” as an “an unfortunate feature of our country’s history.”

Other tactics promoted by the Republican-dominated Elections Commission include shortening the early vote period, combining polling sites with fewer sites remaining open and operating with reduced staff. Longer lines increase obstacles for poorer voters to leave work and vote.

Minorities in many states are pulled over by the police on voting days, so they are discouraged from exercising their voting rights. Gerrymandering pares off portions of districts to minimize impact of minority and poor vote tallies.

Despite being criticized by the newspaper for attempting to preserve voters’ rights, Democrats will continue efforts to stop the process and notify those who may have been purged. They see the legislation as one of many voter suppression methods that target poor or minority voters. Ohio voters who have moved or skipped any voting days should check their voter registration at https://voterlookup.sos.state.oh.us/ voterlookup.aspx

The Tribune is urged to accept its own Onion.

LINDA COCUZZI RICHTER

Niles