Rock the Vote Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute
National Nonprofit Filed Joint “Friend of the Court” Brief in September,
Led Campaign to Pass National Voter Registration Act in the Early 1990s
WASHINGTON — Rock the Vote, the national nonpartisan organization dedicated to building the political power of young people, issued the following statement on Wednesday’s oral argument before the United States Supreme Court in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, a case challenging Ohio’s illegal purging of voters from its rolls:
“Twenty-five years ago, Rock the Vote teamed up with musicians, artists, national civil rights organizations, MTV and Rolling Stone to help pass the National Voter Registration Act and stop states from arbitrarily purging their voter rolls — a practice that disproportionately denies young people and people of color the freedom to make their voice heard at the ballot box. Today, we’ve got a bad case of déjà vu.
“Thousands of eligible Ohioans have already been denied the freedom to vote simply because they missed a couple of elections and a piece of mail. These arbitrary purges of Ohio’s voter rolls are just another example of politicians writing rules to help themselves win elections, rather than focusing on making sure eligible voters have the opportunity to choose our own leaders and engage on the issues we care about.
“Rock the Vote is proud to stand in solidarity with civil rights organizations, activists and voters across the state of Ohio demanding an end to this unlawful and unjust practice. If Secretary Husted refuses to recognize voting as a fundamental right — rather than a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ one — then we hope the Court will do so for him.”
From 1991 to 1993, Rock the Vote worked with partners including League of Women Voters, ACLU, NAACP, MTV, Rolling Stone, major musical artists of the era, and elected leaders to support the passage of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
In 2016, after notifying Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that Ohio’s voter purging practice known as the “Supplemental Process” violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), Dēmos and the ACLU of Ohio brought a lawsuit on behalf of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), and Larry Harmon, a Navy veteran who voted in 2008 but was ultimately purged under the Supplemental Process even though he was living at the same address and remained fully eligible to vote. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down Ohio’s controversial purge of infrequent voters from its voter rolls in September 2016, finding that Ohio’s Supplemental Process violates the NVRA’s prohibition on removing voters from the rolls by reason of a voter’s failure to vote.
Secretary of State Jon Husted filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting the Court review and overturn the Sixth Circuit’s decision. In May 2017, the Supreme Court granted the petition. A diverse group of organizations and individuals, including Rock the Vote, have filed 18 amicus briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Ohio voter purge practice.
About Rock the Vote:
Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people. For over 25 years, Rock the Vote has revolutionized the way we use pop culture, music, art and technology to engage young people in politics, registering and turning out millions of young voters on campuses, in communities, and online. Learn more at rockthevote.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @rockthevote.