After the Department of Justice told Florida to stop purging its voter rolls, Gov. Rick Scott announced on Fox News that his state is suing the federal government.
Florida wants access to the Department of Homeland Security’s database, SAVE, in order to cross-check the names of noncitizens who may have fraudulently registered to vote. The Department of Justice in a letter said that Florida must not perform any voter purge so close to its August presidential primary. Voter rolls are supposed to be left alone during a quiet period for 90 days prior to an election. The quiet period for Florida started May 16.
“We’ve been asking for the Department of Homeland Security’s database, SAVE, for months, and they haven’t given it to us,” Scott said on Fox News on June 11. “So this afternoon, we will be filing a lawsuit, the secretary of state of Florida, against the Department of Homeland Security to give us that database. We want to have fair, honest elections in our state and we have been put in a position that we have to sue the federal government to get this information.”
According to the DOJ, Florida would not be able to use the database because it does not collect a certain individual identifying number. It has been using driver’s license registration records to check voter citizenship and purge noncitizens, but those records may not be up-to-date or accurate, the DOJ stated.
According to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the DHS has been stonewalling them for nearly a year, forcing them to continue their purge into the 90-day quiet period. He said in a statement, “We can’t let the federal government delay our efforts to uphold the integrity of Florida elections any longer. We’ve filed a lawsuit to ensure the law is carried out and we are able to meet our obligation to keep the voter rolls accurate and current.”
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote that 180,000 people may be affected by Florida’s purge. Of those, many legitimate voters could be purged and thereby prevented from exercising their right to vote, he wrote.Some jurisdictions in Florida are still under federal supervision under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which means they must pre-clear any changes they make to do with voting and voter registration. When Florida began purging its voter rolls, those counties also violated the 1965 requirement for pre-clearance, according to Perez.
“Please immediately cease this unlawful conduct,” he wrote in his letter to the secretary of state.
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