Cleaning up state voter registration lists

Ohioans and West Virginians concerned about honest elections can celebrate this week, courtesy of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Both states have relatively new mechanisms, handled by secretaries of state and local election officials, for keeping voter registration rolls up to date. One technique used in both states involves people who have not cast ballots in some time.

The idea is to ensure people who have died or moved are not retained on registration lists.

Both West Virginia and Ohio notify registered voters who have not cast ballots in some time. In Ohio, voters who have not been active in three federal elections over six years are notified and asked to confirm that they wish to remain listed as registered voters. In West Virginia, those who have not voted or updated their registration information in four years are checked.

Ohio’s system was challenged in a federal lawsuit alleging the system is unfair. People who have not voted should not be removed from registration rolls, plaintiffs argued. West Virginia officials were among those joining their Buckeye State counterparts in defending the system.

On Monday, the high court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled the method used in the states and a few others is legal and constitutional.

Good. Our systems do not penalize people solely for not voting. They are merely a way of ensuring voter registration rolls are as accurate as possible. The high court was right to rule as it did.


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