Analysis of Husted v. Phillip Randolph Institute (2018)

Christopher J. Schaefer, MA
9 July 2018

States are legally permitted to remove infrequent voters from its databases, according to the United States Supreme Court.

A five-justice majority, led by Samuel Alito, upheld Ohio’s practice of purging irregular voters—a practice employed by nineteen other states, including Wisconsin—was Constitutional. The Ohio secretary of state’s office mails postcards to individuals who have not cast a ballot in two consecutive election cycles, asking them to verify their address. Failure to respond results in the individual’s name being purged from state voting rolls.

Petitioners argued that Ohio was in violation of federal election law by removing individuals from state voting roles, and disenfranchising minority and low-turnout voters; the Supreme Court disagreed.

The five-justice majority argued that despite a federal prohibition on removal of individuals from voting rolls by states for the purpose of an individual’s unwillingness to vote, state officials are allowed purge infrequent voters from their databases based on non-receipt of residential verification.

Supporters of the decision maintained that purging databases prevents voter fraud,

ensures state voting rolls are accurate, and prevents non-state residents from voting. Judge Alito, writing for the majority in Husted v. Phillip Randolph Institute (2018)wrote,

“It has been estimated that 24 million voter registrations in the United States—about one-in-eight—are either invalid or significantly inaccurate…and about 2.75 million people are said to be registered to vote in more than one state.”

Majority and dissenting opinions can be found at:  We are not advocating for or against this ruling; rather, the purpose is to provide readers with an overview of landmark Supreme Court rulings during this, the final month of the 2017-18 term.

Christopher Schaefer, a presidential historian and political consultant, resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and is the author of four books: The Great President: The Policies that Shaped the Bush Legacy; 41 vs. 43: The Reluctant Realism of George H.W. Bush, the Primacy of George W. Bush, and the War in Iraq; The Presidential Simulation: A Student’s Guide to Understanding the American Presidency; and Project Mastodon: Building a Twenty-First Century Republican Party (2 vols.). Schaefer received his BA in Politics and Government from Ripon College and MA in Political Management from the George Washington University.