Sessions’s Justice Department Supports Voter Purge

Civil rights groups are challenging Ohio in the courts for an attempt to purge their voter rolls.

The Ohio procedure allows the state to purge voters meeting certain criteria for being inactive. If a voter has not cast a ballot in two years, the person is sent a notice asking to confirm registration. If the voter does not respond and does not cast a ballot over the next four years, the person is removed from the rolls.

Obama’s Justice Department previously filed an amicus brief siding with the civil rights groups. That has now been reversed.

The Justice Department has reversed itself in a high-profile voting case in Ohio to side with the state and allow the purging of voters from the rolls for not answering election mail and not voting in recent elections.

In a court filing Monday, Justice attorneys took the opposite position from the Obama administration in a case that involved the state’s removal of thousands of inactive voters from the Ohio voting rolls.

Civil rights groups last year challenged Ohio’s process, arguing that such purges are prohibited under the National Voter Registration Act…

But in an unusual turn, the department filed a new amicus brief Monday arguing that the purges of voters are legal under federal law. This brief, unlike the prior one, was not signed by career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division.

In referring to this move, Matthew Miller, former DOJ spokesman during the Obama administration, said this about our current Attorney General:

I’d also remind you that the previous Acting Director of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ, Vanita Gupta, recently warned that the purge of voter rolls is coming.

Lost amid the uproar over the [election integrity] commission’s request was a letter sent at the same time by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. It forced 44 states to provide extensive information on how they keep their voter rolls up-to-date. It cited the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the Motor-Voter law, which mandates that states help voters register through motor vehicle departments.

The letter doesn’t ask whether states are complying with the parts of the law that expand opportunities to register. Instead it focuses on the sections related to maintaining the lists. That’s a prelude to voter purging.

This development won’t get the kind of attention garnered by Trump’s outrageous tweets or his promise to reign down fire and fury on North Korea. But it is every bit as threatening to our democracy.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.