More Lawsuits Over Florida Voter Purge

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) faces another lawsuit stemming from the purge of voter rolls leading up to the November presidential election.

Civil and voting rights organizations filed suit today alleging the purge violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans discrimination in voting practices. “This lawsuit will protect eligible voters in every county in Florida from walking into a polling place only to find that the state has erroneously decreed they cannot participate in this election,” Catherine M. Flanagan, director of Project Vote’s Election Administration Program, said in a statement. “This purge is profoundly undemocratic and must be stopped.”

Florida officials insist the purge is necessary to prevent voter fraud, despite the fact that no evidence of widespread voter fraud exists.

Of the list of nearly 2,700 voters that the state has flagged as possible non-citizens on the voter rolls using a faulty data matching process, over 500 have already shown documentation that they are citizens and eligible to vote. A program with a high error rate that places the burden on the voter to proof citizenship will end up disenfranchising hundreds of eligible voter’s right before the election with little time to correct the error and restore their right to vote.

“The Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc., an organization that represents the immigrant community across the state of Florida, believes this as another effort to intimidate legal immigrants,” said Maria Rodriquez, executive director of Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We see this purge as part of a continuum of attacks on immigrants that could impact this community’s confidence that their votes this election will be counted.”

Database matching programs are notoriously unreliable. Data entry errors, similar-sounding names, and changing information can all produce false matches. Additionally, some voters slated for removal may well have been naturalized since completing the DHSMV or juror forms. Further, it places the burden of proof on the voter, who according to the state, must respond within 30 days to a notice letter that could easily be lost, misplaced, or inadvertently ignored.

“While counties have an obligation to clean and update voter rolls, they also have an obligation to follow the law in doing so. If there are people on the roles improperly, there is a legal process to remove them. Unfortunately, Florida’s current program does not follow the law,” stated Ben Hovland, senior counsel with the Fair Elections Legal Network. “As a result, we have seen the use of outdated or incorrect records from the Department of Motor Vehicles jeopardize the right to vote of hundreds of law-abiding Florida citizens. Florida should stop this effort immediately and restore the voting rights of anyone that has been affected by this faulty matching program.”

“It is clear that the state of Florida is in violation of the Voting Rights Act,” said Advancement Project Co-Chair Penda Hair. “It is shameful that Governor Scott is violating federal law to remove the voting rights of thousands of American citizens, with a glaringly disparate impact on Black and Latino citizens who are perfectly eligible to vote.”

The facts clearly demonstrate that the program disproportionately burdens Hispanics, Haitian Americans, and other minority voters in Florida. According to the NVRA, any state program to maintain an accurate and current voter roll must be “uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.” However, 87 percent of those targeted on the purge list are minorities, including 53 percent that have been identified as Hispanics.

“This action by Florida state officials is a blatant attempt to disenfranchise Latino and other voters of color, and to harm their ability to participate in the voting process,” said Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Public data records are rife with inaccuracies and Florida officials know that. This last minute voter purge speaks volumes about their motivations.”

Despite insurrection from county election officials, evidence the purge targets African-American and Hispanic voters, and a lawsuit by the Department of Justice to end the purge, the Scott administration presses on. In doing so Scott joins the long list of Republican southern governors who stood defiant and resolute in their goal of disenfranchising minority voters. Scott may not consider himself part of the racist neo-Confederate wing of the Republican party, but history surely will.

Related Stories:

DOJ Sues Florida Over Voter Purge

Koch Bros. Help Bankroll Florida Voter Purge

Voting Rights Crisis Unfolding In Florida

Photo from gageskidmore via flickr.


Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

The very fact that one of our two major parties is dedicated to the concept of voter suppression is just despicable and should result in federal investigation and criminal charges. Voter suppression is not a political option, it is a federal crime.

Robert K.
Robert K5 years ago

Gene, actually, nationally voter fraud is less than 0.001% But Mittwit Romney is one of the few who has committed voter fraud. Why isn't he in a jail cell?

Robert Fitzgerald

The only voter fraud here is the one pushed by Gov. Scott.

Fred F.
Fred F5 years ago

Whatever slap on the wrist that Governor Scott might get for stealing many Americans right to vote has been factored in as an acceptable price for getting Romney elected. The Romney campaign could call on the Florida Governor to stop this so that his election won't have the cloud of suspected election fraud hanging over it. They just don't care though, any more than Bush did or does. However slimy they look, they sit in the White House and wield all the power that comes with it. Rutherford B Hayes took the presidency in 1876, much the same way as Bush did in 2000. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but was denied the presidency because of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina and a bitter dispute over counting their electoral votes. While still deep red and hotbeds of right wing lunacy, Louisiana and South Carolina seem to have gotten out of the election stealing business. Florida on the other hand seems to be emerging as a state that can't hold a fair election. No longer a US state, it has become a republican plantation.

Carl Oerke
Carl O5 years ago

Rick Scott understands that Obama cannot win a second term if he looses Florida abd the governor is going to do anything legal or illegal to make it happen. I wonder what his payoff will be from the Romney adminisration. Hopefully, we will never have to find out. He is denying citizens of this fair country their constitutional rights and must be fought vigorously on all fronts.

Gary A L.
Gary L5 years ago

Rick Scott is a neo nazi creep who should be indicted for fraud and violating voter rights only a rightwing nut job sing's this garbage about voter fraud here's a clue it does not exist in any form that could effect election results and thats a fack Mike C something you RWNJ's don't like

Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

Dick head Scott is an embarrassment to the country and another proud "Floridiot'.

Kimberly J.
Kimberly J5 years ago

Gene J, Gov. Lurch does have a poll tax. You have to show a state issued photo ID in order to be able to vote. That ID can be your drivers' license or a state ID card which costs money. Even though I have a military ID card issued by the United States Government, according to Lurch, it is not proof of ID, only a Florida state issued drivers' license or ID card is proof of ID.

For the life of me, I just don't understand why Alex Sink didn't demand a recount of the votes. Lurch won the election by less than 1% of the votes, so a recount was definitely in order. If Alex Sink had asked for a recount, we might actually have a governor who cares about the people of Florida instead of himself. The last governor who cared about the people of Florida was "Walkin'" Lawton Chiles. If he hadn't died before he could start campaigning for Buddy McCay, Florida politics might just look a whole lot different than they do now.

Since we Floridians have no right to recall the governor, I seriously hope that the Feds lock him up & throw away the key. And I'm not talking about a 'country club' prison where rich criminals go. I want him to do hard time. After all, he's already gotten away with defrauding Medicare & Medicaid, so it's time for him to do the time for all of his crimes.

Beth K.
.5 years ago

You're correct that it is a trend Mike C. - a trend of the republicans breaking the law in order to supress votes.

John B.
John B5 years ago

Rick Scott reminds me of George Wallace. Thanks Jessica for the article. Gene J. green star to you and David I wish I could send you another one but can't.