Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the below statement in response to today’s 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court interpreting a federal law meant to increase voter registration to permit Secretary Husted to purge voters who don’t vote in every election.
“I am deeply disappointed in this ruling. It goes against the entire purpose of the National Voter Registration Act which is to increase registration of eligible voters and to keep eligible voters on the rolls. Secretary Husted’s method of purging voters based on frequency of voting is overly aggressive, cutting far too many eligible voters from the rolls and taking their rights away.
“We must keep in mind, however, that the Supreme Court’s decision is a limited one. Justice Alito’s opinion only holds that federal law allows this purging, it does not suggest that federal law requires it nor that it is good policy. Under this decision, whether or not to purge is left to the states.
“I therefore call on the Secretary to act with restraint. He should leave eligible voters on the rolls and only remove people for legitimate reasons such as death or moving out of state. We are now only 5 months from our next federal election and any rush now to remove a backlog of up to 589,000 voters that he has marked for purging will be extremely disruptive and unfair to Ohio voters. Even if aggressively purging voters for their frequency of voting does not violate a federal statute it is still bad policy for all Ohioans.”
Rep. Clyde currently serves as Ranking Member on the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, which hears elections and voting rights bills. She is a lawyer and former election official and was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Election Officials for her voting work. She has worked on the issue of voter purging extensively during her four terms and has introduced legislation, the Stop the Purge Act, to require eligible Ohio voters be kept on the voting rolls.