Supreme Court Case Could Help or Hinder Voter Suppression
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Washington, D.C. — Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, joined by 19 organizations, submitted an amicus brief (also known as a friend of the court document) in support of respondent A. Philip Randolph Institute for the U.S. Supreme Court case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, et al. The case could prove to be pivotal in the civil rights fight against voter suppression tactics.
The brief contends that Ohio’s aggressive practice of purging voter rolls – a list of individuals who have not voted in a two-year period – is harmful to communities of color, especially those with limited English proficiency in the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Latinx communities.
“This case has particular significance as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seek to potentially purge voter rolls unlawfully and attempt other aggressive tactics targeting communities of color,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “These tactics threaten to intimidate or discriminate against eligible voters and subvert the democratic process by silencing the voices of American citizens.”
For years, Ohio has used a procedure called the “Supplemental Process” to remove voters from the state’s official list of registered voters (voter rolls) after they have not voted in a two-year period, claiming that these individuals must have moved. Individuals on this list can, and often does, include voters who have changed addresses.
“The biggest threat to our democracy is not widespread voter fraud, it is that too few Americans are turning out to vote,” stated Arturo Vargas, executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund. “To maximize participation, we need to end these kinds of discriminatory voter purges and start promoting policies that make voting and registering to vote more accessible, not less accessible, to the nation’s second largest population group and all qualified U.S. citizens.”
“Purging voter rolls has serious consequences for voters who will fail to receive critical election information further exacerbating the lower voter turnouts in the Latino and Asian American communities,” said Jose Perez, deputy general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We hope the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court’s ruling that Ohio’s process violates the National Voter Registration Act.”
Pro bono counsel, led by partner Brigida Benitez at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, represented the amici groups in filing the brief, which also outlines Ohio policies that inhibit voter participation such as reduced early voting and lack of same day registration.
Twenty-two voting, and human rights organizations signed onto the amicus brief to stop Ohio’s voter purge practice and keep other states from following Ohio’s suppressive efforts.