Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The recent Supreme Court decision supporting Ohio’s voter suppression sets a dangerous precedent for democracy.

The recent Supreme Court decision supporting Ohio’s voter suppression sets a dangerous precedent for democracy.

Regardless of your political optimism, it’s undeniable that politics are partisan. In modern America that seems more apparent than ever: media sources are sorted as red or blue, candidates with low approval ratings are nonetheless supported by their parties, and CNN debates sound more and more like sports coverage.

Despite most Americans identifying as Independents, it is difficult to find political middle ground. Nonetheless, both parties typically agree on one thing: democratic values. Issues that revolve around what makes a democracy a democracy—separation of power, constitutional rights, more—should be eternally bipartisan. In reality, though, states often pass legislation that conflicts with democratic values. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and numerous other states recently came under scrutiny for gerrymandered voting maps or maps that were drawn unfairly to benefit the party in power. It is the Supreme Court’s job to rectify this.

However, with recent nominations to the Supreme Court creating a political imbalance in the justices, we’ve seen some decisions conflict with democracy. In Colorado, a baker who refused to make a cake for an LGBT couple was supported by the Supreme Court, a ruling inconsistent with previous legislation that deems discrimination based on a demographic factor unconstitutional. But the worst ruling was in support of Ohio’s voter purging, setting precedent in support of states that want to restrict voter rights.

The law itself deals with registered voters who don’t vote in an election. Ohio sends mail asking to confirm their address and then purges voters who don’t respond within the next 2 elections. The law seems fair until you see the numbers: Ohio sent out more than 3 million of these notices, but 70% of those individuals didn’t respond.

Among those individuals stripped of their voting rights are army veterans, who were removed after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these notices target urban counties, presenting a possible partisan motive for purging urban voters in a battleground state like Ohio. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t necessarily spell doom for voter rights: after all, only 6 states have identical laws purging inactive voters. But as Americans, it’s our job to be vigilant and fiercely protective of our democratic rights—it’s vital we agree on them.

Grace Jin is a student at Yale University. She’s a multi-time national champion in debate and is passionate about intersectional politics from the perspective of Generation Z.

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