A federal judge today refused the Department of Justice’s attempt to block a Florida voter-purging initiative that has already proved to strip hundreds of eligible citizens of their right to vote.
Last month, the Justice Department sued the state of Florida to stop a voter purge program that aims to systematically take “non-citizens” off of voter rolls weeks before the August 14 federal primary election. Using a highly dubious methodology, the state appeared to find 2,600 people they suspected were not citizens, but might potentially vote.
The grand majority of the people on that list were people of color and Democrats, while over half were Latino-Americans. DOJ claimed that Florida’s purge program runs afoul of the National Voter Registration Act, which says voters can’t be removed in a massive program within ninety days of a federal election—a law put in place mostly in response to Florida’s history of removing eligible voters in massive programs right before elections.
Judge Hinkle did not see it that way, though, and has allowed Florida’s program to continue. His ruling states that federal laws say nothing about removing ineligible voters within ninety days of an election, even though the purge program has already produced hundreds of names of people who are eligible to vote.
“We’re disappointed with the judge’s decision,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair, whom Colorlines just interviewed last week about a lawsuit they also filed against Florida over the voter purge program. “This threatens the voting rights of thousands of US citizens. The right to vote is the fundamental pillar of our democracy and targeting a particular group of voters is simply wrong.”
“Florida is is imposing a two-tiered system of voting, one for citizens who were born here and one for those who have been naturalized, with thousands of US-born citizens being unfairly caught up in this anti-democratic purge,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne-Dianis. “Voting illegally already carries with it a threat of substantial fines, jail sentences, and—in the case of non-citizens—deportation. What Florida is actually doing is trying to disenfranchise American citizen for partisan gain. It is against the basic values of fairness and American democracy, which is why we have filed suit to stop it.”