The United States Department of Justice will sue Florida to prevent it from removing voters from its rolls.
In a letter to Florida’s Republican Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote, “Because the State has indicated its unwillingness to comply with [Voting Rights Act] requirements, I have authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in Federal court.”
The letter cites a number of issues with Florida’s attempts to purge “illegal” voters, from its occurrence during a 90-day “quiet period,” which is prohibited by the National Voter Registration Act, to the program’s reliance on data from the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program.
“The SAVE Program relies on DHS records, which do not include a comprehensive and definitive listing of U.S. citizens, and does not include, for example, those born in the United States,” Perez wrote. “Furthermore, as DHS explained to you as early as October 2011, the SAVE Program can verify those individuals only if unique identifiers, such as alien identification numbers…are provided.”
Perez noted that the Florida Division of Elections does not collect the data necessary to verify identity.
The State of Florida Monday filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that DHS was “fail[ing] to meet its legal obligation to provide us the information necessary to identify and remove ineligible voters from Florida’s voter rolls,” according to a statement released by Detzner.
Howard Simon, Director of the Florida ACLU, said Detzner’s suit was an “acknowledgement that [Florida] was using bad data and kicking eligible citizens off the voter rolls in the first place.”
Perez said the program “has critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.”
Florida has come under withering criticism for its voter purge, which was undertaken ostensibly to ensure only eligible voters could vote. Monday’s Justice Department action has been widely expected since last Wednesday, when Florida responded angrily to Justice Department concerns about the voter purge.
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