Florida Purging Of Alleged Noncitizens Violates National Voting Rights Act;Hispanics disproportional
Civil rights groups today delivered a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner charging the state with violating the National Voting Rights Act of 1993 for the removal of voters from the rolls whom the state alleges are noncitizens.
The Florida Department of Elections is conducting a broad sweep of election rolls, purging the names of Florida residents through flawed methodologies that are likely to keep thousands of U.S. citizens from being able to exercise their right to vote in November. To determine eligibility, state election officials are comparing voter lists with the Department of Highway Safety database, even though citizenship documentation is not required to obtain a driver’s license.
The NVRA expressly prohibits states from systematically removing voters from the rolls within 90 days prior to a federal election. With Florida’s primary being scheduled for August 14, 2012, the state’s new program falls within this window and is in violation of the federal law. Up to 180,000 Floridian citizens could be affected by the changes, an estimated 58 percent of them Hispanic. According to the Miami Herald, white and GOP voters are the least likely to face purges.
“The right to vote is the fundamental pillar of our democracy,” explained Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair. “Florida has a shameful history of purging minority voters based on false information and inaccurate lists right before the presidential elections. This year's deeply flawed process disproportionately targets Latino voters and is discriminatory, unfair and antithetical to the values of our nation.” In 2000 and 2004, the state used a flawed method to come up with a listing of people believed to be ineligible to vote due to past felony convictions and sought to purge them from the rolls. Tens of thousands of those listed had been granted clemency and had their rights fully restored, others were mistakenly purged due to similar names and other errors.
According to state election officials, the purges were started at the direct urging of GOP Governor Rick Scott.