by Franita Tolson, Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Under the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”), states can remove an individual from the voter rolls if the person confirms, in writing, that he or she has moved, or if he or she has failed to respond to an address verification notice and has failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections. 52 U.S.C. 20507(d). The NVRA is clear, however, that individuals cannot be removed solely for failing to vote. 52 U.S.C. 20507(b)(2). At issue in A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Husted, which will be argued this fall before the U.S. Supreme Court, is whether a state can use a person’s failure to vote as a trigger to send the address verification notice required by section 20507(d). Under 20507(c), states are free to contract the post office to obtain the names of those individuals who have filed a change of address form and then send notices to those individuals. In addition to obtaining names from the post office, Ohio also sends notices to those voters who have not engaged in any “voter activity” for two years, such as filing an address change on a voter registration card or with a state agency, or voting, either provisionally, through an absentee ballot, or in person on election day.