His name was missing from the voting rolls in 2011, even though Helle had registered to vote before leaving home at 18 and hadn't changed his address during his military service.
But Chief Justice John Roberts said a failure to vote or respond to a notice tells the state something about whether a voter has moved.
"I thought the Justices asked a great series of questions", Husted said in an interview after the court's hour-long arguments.
The case has taken on added importance because the parties have squared off over ballot access across the country.
As a person who votes in every election, I can't pretend to understand people who don't register to vote. A handful of states, including Pennsylvania, use policies similar to Ohio's. "We know that's wrong", U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from OH, said at the rally.
The purge policy would have barred Harmon from participating in the presidential election in November 2016.
"A United States serviceman being told that he could go defend the right to vote but cannot exercise that right is ridiculous", Helle said.
Helle shared his concerns and personal experience having been subject to the state's voter purge policy during a news conference in Columbus on Tuesday.
"They want the ability to use non-voting to remove people", Demos senior counsel Stuart Naifeh, who is representing the OH challengers, told TPM.
In 2016, a federal appeals court expressed its agreement with ACLU's stance by deeming Ohio's purges unconstitutional.
Without that decision, "the ballots of more than 7,500 eligible Ohioans would have gone uncounted in the November 2016 election", Mr. Harmon's lawyers at Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a Supreme Court brief.
The U.S. Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to rule for OH in a legal fight over the state's method for removing people from the list of registered voters. OH argues this helps ensure election security. "What we're talking about is the best tools to implement that goal".
Ohio Solicitor Eric Murphy said Congress had adopted a "compromise" that "left a lot of room for states in our federal system to adopt the procedures that are best in that state".
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The case before the court centers on Republican-ruled OH where, under current law, state authorities can take away the right to vote from anyone who fails to show up at the polls for several years in a row.
Helle said he had no idea his name had been dropped and said he mailed in absentee ballots in some years and not others.
"People have a right not to vote if they choose", Sotomayor said.
If a voter doesn't cast a ballot for two years, a postcard or mailer is sent to the address listed on the voter's registration.
"There are strong arguments on both sides", Alito said, suggesting his decision will come down to interpreting the language of the statute. "Choosing not to vote is as important as choosing to vote".
"On the other hand, there are 40-plus states that don't do this, and many of them may start to do this for political reasons", Morrison said.
If you live in OH, your failure to vote for two years would have triggered a process that could have resulted in your being purged from the state's voter rolls.
The case is being watched closely by voting rights groups across the nation.
Tellingly, four Republican commissioners from Trump's now-defunct commission are involved in legal briefs supporting OH in the case. People who do not respond and don't vote over the next four years, including in two more federal elections, are dropped from the list of registered voters. Republicans say voter rolls need scrutiny to prevent fraud and promote ballot integrity, while Democrats insist the efforts are meant to reduce turnout from Democratic-leaning groups like racial minorities. States can use change-of-address forms filed with the U.S. Postal Service, as well as government tax records, census lists and motor-vehicle department databases, the challengers say.
Suppose that in the last two years, you didn't show up to vote.