The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the constitutionality of an Ohio law that removes people from voters rolls after six years if they do not vote during that time or respond to state efforts to verify their residence in the state.
The vote was 5-4, with all four liberal justices dissenting. In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito stated the court’s task was only to determine if the Ohio policy violated federal law, not whether the policy was a good one.
“This was a good decision and actually a win for voters,” said Hans von Spakovsky, director of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation and a member of last year’s White House commission on election integrity.
In a stinging dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the majority decision and suggested racial minorities could be disenfranchised by the ruling.
She said the five justices on the other side were ignoring “the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act] was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.”
Von Spakovsky considers that argument nonsense.
“Her thinking is totally illogical and shows what fantasies she’s created in her own mind. None of what she said makes any sense. The cleanup rules don’t affect certain races more than others,” said von Spakovsky. “Her opinion is all emotional thinking with no basis in facts or logic.”
The ruling “only affects people who don’t bother to vote and then don’t reply to an official notice and saying you still live here,” he said.
“Her saying that is somehow going to affect black voters is a very patronizing attitude.”
National Review columnist John Fund also has closely studied the issue and co-authored a book with von Spakovsky titled “Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.”
Fund says legislation such as Motor Voter and the Help America Vote Act has not achieve their goals of making it easy to vote and hard to commit fraud, noting the millions of inaccurate or out-of-date records.
As for the allegations of disenfranchisement, Fund notices a curious omission from all the dire projections.
“In all of these cases, in whatever state they’re filed in, the one thing that seems to be missing are the names of actual victims, people who weren’t actually able to vote,” said Fund, noting that the Ohio residents reported on as victims of the new law have not voted in over a decade and ignored repeated efforts by the government to verify their status.
“At that point, I think the government had the right to say, ‘We haven’t heard from you. You’re not voting, so we’re going to clean up the rolls. You have to participate in order to validate your registration,’” said Fund, who points out Ohio residents can register to vote by mailing in a postcard.
So why are four Supreme Court justices and other liberals reluctant to allow thorough updating of the voter rolls? Von Spakovsky suspects out-of-date voter rolls enable voter fraud. Fund thinks they earnestly believe something that isn’t true.
“They really do sincerely believe that democracy should be just as effective depending on how many people vote, regardless of whether or not they’re eligible, whether or not they’re real, whether or not they’re well-informed. Most Americans, I think, have a very different view,” said Fund.
While Fund and von Spakovsky point out the dearth of people actually disenfranchised by updating the voter rolls, their critics suggest allegations of rampant voter fraud are also without evidence.
“Well, if you don’t look for evidence and you don’t conduct any steps to find the evidence, you’re not going to find any problems,” said Fund, who points out Project Veritas has proven how easy it is to vote fraudulently in states that do not require voters to present photo identification.
Von Spakovsky says the Heritage Foundation has 1,100 examples of voter fraud in its database and it’s getting bigger all the time.
“The idea that fraud doesn’t occur is just wrong,” he said.