Supreme Court Totally Cool With States Purging Brown Voters 'By Accident'
This will not end well.
It has been estimated that 24 million voter registrations in the United States—about one in eight—are either invalid or significantly inaccurate. Pew Center on the States, Election Initiatives Issue Brief (Feb. 2012). And about 2.75 million people are said to be registered to vote in more than one State. Ibid.
That's Justice Samuel Alito playing along with Republican fearmongering that American voter rolls are OMG FULL OF FRAUDULENT VOTERS! He knows it's bullshit. He knows people don't vote in multiple states, but that they just don't feel like spending an hour on paperwork deleting their old registration when they move across state lines. And he knows yesterday's Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute decision will be a green light for Republicans to cement their hold on power by purging younger, browner, more Democratic voters -- i.e. those most likely to move across state lines -- from the polls. He just doesn't care. For him, it's a feature not a bug.
If you are an Ohio voter who fails to vote, the secretary of state will send you a postcard demanding you return it to verify your address. If you ignore it, because whatever snail mail, people got shit to do and then you fail to vote in another two election cycles, you will find yourself purged from the rolls. Secretary of State Jon Husted, running mate of wingloon Mike DeWine in fall's gubernatorial contest, dispatched two million voters this way between 2011 and 2016. A mere drop in the bucket in a state with ... eight million registered voters, right?
The National Voter Registration Act forbids purging a voter simply because she fails to vote. But pair that failure to vote with an unreturned postcard, and badda bing badda boom you got your totally legal voter disenfranchisement. Look, here's Husted telling Oak Harbor mayor Joe Helle, who was purged from Ohio's rolls while deployed for six years in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he "doesn't understand the process":
He seems nice! It's just an accident that 10 percent of Cincinnati's citizens were purged from the rolls, while only 4 percent of their counterparts in the majority-white suburbs were disenfranchised. Husted would never try to augment Ohio Republicans' massive gerrymander by getting rid of those pesky Democratic voters!
Look, real talk, Wonkers. These fuckers are going to do every goddamn thing they can to prevent you from voting. And the court isn't going to stop them. They're making a pile of these narrow, technical cases -- each one just a tiny chip in your right as a citizen to vote -- but pretty soon that pile will be blocking the whole polling station. Take it from Justice Sotomayor in her dissent:
Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by. Today's decision forces these communities and their allies to be even more proactive and vigilant in holding their States accountable and working to dismantle the obstacles they face in exercising the fundamental right to vote.
They're going to argue that it's racist to cancel early voting or Souls to the Polls. They'll say it's just a coincidence that they're purging two brown voters for every white one. They'll say there's no discriminatory intent behind requiring ID to vote. They are LYING, and the courts won't care.
There's only one solution.
Make sure you friends are registered, and drag them to the polls. This November, next November, and every primary, general, special election forever. JUST DO IT.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.