There’s a civil rights crisis unfolding in Florida thanks to a massive voter purge ordered by Republican Governor Rick Scott.
Late last year Scott ordered the Secretary of State Kurt Browning to “identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.” But Florida has no reliable citizenship data so Scott told election officials to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing data from the state motor vehicle administration with the voting file.
Using Scott’s methods, Browning came up with a list of 182,000 names.
The process has sparked nothing but controversy. Browning complained the process was unreliable and eventually resigned. ThinkProgress reports that Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel (R) posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport.
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) has called the process a “blatant attempt to suppress voter turnout” and will demand Scott immediately suspend the purge.
That request joins others from civil rights groups who believe the purge violates federal laws that prohibit the state from removing voters from the rolls less than 90 days before a federal election. Florida’s primary will be help August 14th.
Updating voter rolls is a necessary process that does not need to be politicized any further than Scott already has. Given the long history of minority voter suppression and the state’s aggressive changes to its election laws, there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of Scott’s motives here. The Department of Justice needs to take these actions seriously and intervene for the sake of the tens of thousands of Floridians who are about to have their most essential civil right stripped for cheap partisan gain.
Photo from alan cleaver via flickr.