Photo of men and women posing and facing the camera all wearing long black robes in front of a dark red curtain

Millions of Ohio voters have tried to vote on Election Day over the past 15 years only to find their names were erased from the pollbooks.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought suit against the State of Ohio and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to protect voter’s rights to remain registered. At the crux of the ACLU’s lawsuit were 385,065 registered Ohioans who were refused absentee ballots in 2016 because they had failed to vote in the 2012 or 2014 federal elections.

The United States Supreme Court will now decide whether voting in Ohio is a constitutional right like free speech or a more limited right controlled by the Secretary of State’s office. Oral arguments begin on Wednesday, January 10.

Ohio has a notorious “use it or lose it” rule. If you don’t vote in federal elections in a two-year period, even if you’re voting at the state and local elections during the same period, you may be purged from the county voting rolls. Of course, your chances of being purged are far more likely if you’re in an urban Democratic county.

Back in 2004, George W. Bush’s victory over opponent John Kerry was only 118,000 votes. Free Press investigations uncovered that 305,000 voters had been eliminated from the voting rolls. This included nearly a quarter of all the voters in Cleveland, a city the voted 81% Democratic. Heavily Democratic Toledo and the urban black districts in Cincinnati had also been targeted for purging voters.

Between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, an extensive study conducted by the Free Press examining all of the voter registration rolls in the state’s 88 counties found that 1.25 million had been scrubbed from the rolls. Again, these purged voters were overwhelming from Democratic precincts.

The now-defunct welfare rights organization ACORN and the Obama campaign had to engage in a massive project to re-register the voters before Election Day.

In the run up to the 2012 presidential election, the Free Press exposed the fact that 1.1 million voters had been purged, according to public records. The purges were highest in poor, minority and urban precincts.

In 2016, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was responsible for purging more than a million voters. Moreover, the Columbus Dispatch found that Husted refused to mail absentee ballot forms to over one million registered voters. One of the reasons given was that the people had moved. An analysis by the Free Press found that 568,456 of these registered voters had moved within the Buckeye State and were still eligible to vote at their new addresses.