The US Department of Justice announced Monday it will sue Florida to stop the state from purging ineligible voters from its voter rolls. The DOJ statement came after Florida filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security for failing to cooperate with efforts to clean up the state’s voter registration records.
A preliminary comparison between drivers license records and voter registration has flagged as many as 182,000 registered voters who may not be US citizens. Florida officials sought access to the DHS immigration database (SAVE) to verify their matches but DHS has refused to respond to the state’s requests.
At least 141 non-citizens have been found on the voter rolls and 47 on this list have cast ballots in previous elections. More than 500 on the list have been identified as citizens and lawful voters.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released a statement after filing the suit in Washington DC:
For nearly a year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide us the information necessary to identify and remove ineligible voters from Florida’s voter rolls… 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.
The Department of Justice maintains that Florida’s efforts violated the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). US Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez sent a letter to Detzer saying:
I have authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in Federal Court…One of Congress’s concerns in enacting the protections of the VRA and NVRA, and one of the Department’s concerns in enforcing federal law as enacted by Congress, is ensuring that state efforts to find and purge ineligible persons from voter registration lists do not endanger the ability of eligible U.S. citizens to register to vote and maintain their voter registration status.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also jumped into the fray. The ACLU filed suit in court last week claiming that the clean up effort violates the 1965 voting act, which requires Florida to get permission to make changes to election law in counties where discriminatory voting practices have historically occurred.