The US Supreme Court sided with the OH in a case over whether or not the state has the right to cull voters from registers if they go too long without casting a ballot.
In the 5-4 decision (pdf), the court found that the state, which drops people from the rolls if they don't vote and then don't respond to notices to confirm their residency, does not violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
Liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor said the same in her dissenting opinion Monday. "The right to vote is not "use it or lose it", Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters which has fought in favor of numerous voting rights cases, said in a statement.
Democrats have accused Republicans of taking steps at the state level, including laws requiring certain types of government-issued identification, meant to suppress the vote of minorities, poor people and others who generally favor Democratic candidates. This term, it faces cases from Wisconsin and Maryland challenging what opponents claim were election maps drawn by state legislators for purely partisan gain. "And Justice Sotomayer has not pointed to any evidence in the record that OH instituted or has carried out its program with discriminatory intent".
The challengers said there are six states that remove voters from their registration lists for failure to vote, but that OH is the most aggressive. A federal appeals court had blocked the procedure for 2016, letting 7,500 state residents cast ballots even though they'd previously been struck from the rolls.
Voters purged from registration rolls who sued to challenge the policy in the Republican-governed state argued that the practice illegally erased thousands of voters from registration rolls and disproportionately impacted racial minorities and poor people who tend to back Democratic candidates. The court's decision essentially endorses "the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against", Sotomayor wrote. "The only question before us is whether it violates federal law".
This presented a problem for OH because the state utilizes one of the strictest removal methods in the country, according to NBC News.
Civil rights groups said the court should be focused on making it easier for people to vote, not allowing states to put up roadblocks to casting ballots.
Husted called the decision "a victory for electoral integrity".
But U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco - whose office changed sides in the case after Trump was elected - said OH had the right to streamline "over-inflated" and "bloated" voter registration rolls. A three-judge panel on that court had ruled 2-1 that Ohio's practice was illegal.