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Rick Scott: state is "absolutely not" targeting minorities in noncitizen voter purge

Gov. Rick Scott said his administration is “absolutely not” intentionally targeting minorities as part of a noncitizen voter purge that the U.S. Department of Justice has ordered Florida to halt.

Scott wouldn’t say whether the state will heed DOJ’s order, which it rendered last night in a two-page letter accusing Florida of breaking two federal voting laws.

“The Secretary of State’s office is going to review what the Department of Justice has said," he said “And then we’re going to make a decision.”

But the decision might have already been made for Scott – by the county supervisors of elections who announced moments later that they will cease the search for noncitizen voters.

The hunt for noncitizen voters began about nine months ago. But, because most immigrants are of Hispanic descent in Florida, the attempted purging of the rolls disproportionately targets them.

Asked to clear up the controversy of whether the state is targeting minorities, Scott said “absolutely not.”

“The Secretary of State’s office is doing the right thing,” Scott said. “We want everyone to register to vote. We want people to vote. But we want fair elections. We want people who have the right to vote go out there and vote.”

So far, Florida has flagged 2,700 potential noncitizen voters and sent the list to county elections supervisors, who have found the data and methodology to be flawed and problematic. The list of potential noncitizen voters – many of whom have turned out to be lawful citizens and voters – disproportionately hits minorities, especially Hispanics.

About 58% of those flagged as potential noncitizens are Hispanics, Florida’s largest ethnic immigrant population, a Miami Herald analysis found. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.

Independent voters and Democrats are the most likely to face being purged from the rolls. Republicans and non-Hispanic whites are the least likely to face removal.

Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Florida needs federal approval before it makes changes to voting because five Florida counties -- Monroe, Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry -- had minority-voting troubles decades ago.

"Our records do not reflect that these changes affecting voting have been submitted to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for judicial review or to the Attorney General for administrative review as required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act," Christian Herren, the DOJ’s lead civil rights lawyer wrote Thursday night.

"Accordingly, it is necessary that they either be brought before that court or submitted to the Attorney General for a determination that they neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of discriminating on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under Section 5."
He gave the state until June 6 to inform the DOJ of its planned course of action.

Herren also said that the National Voter Registration Act bans Florida’s effort because it says “a State shall complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”

As a result, Florida should have halted the effort on May 16, Herren wrote.

Herren also said that the National Voter Registration Act bans Florida’s effort because it says “a State shall complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”

As a result, Florida should have halted the effort on May 16, Herren wrote. He said the voter registration act also requires the “uniform, nondiscriminatory and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

State officials say they’re frustrated with the federal government, which has refused to provide the state access to a Department off Homeland Security database that has citizenship data. As a result, the state has used a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database, which has some citizenship information.

But the state database doesn’t have up-to-date citizenship information. So when the state compares that database to its voter rolls it can indicate people aren’t citizens – and therefore lawful voters – when they actually are.

So far, most of the people flagged on the potential noncitizens list that have been contacted by the news media and county elections supervisors have said or proved that they’re citizens.

Voting-rights and liberal-leaning groups complained that the flawed process of searching for ineligible voters puts the burden of proof unfairly on citizens and could unlawfully trip them from the rolls within about 60 days if they fail to respond to election supervisors letters asking them to prove their citizenship.

Asked about his potential frustrations with the federal government, Scott said he was just trying to do the right thing.

“My job is to enforce the laws of our state,” he said. “And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make sure that we follow the law. If somebody disagrees with it, we should look at it and see what they’re saying. But my job is to make sure Florida law’s followed.”

Comments

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dorndiego

At last, we're starting to see coverage of this outrage outside of MSNBC and, presumably, the newspapers in the state whose governor is perpetrating it.

whasup

Let's have more reporting on all the questionable registered voters and who voted in prior elections, but who can't be found now.

Hmmm ... aside from those who have died ... wonder where they others went.

Kathi Gibson

Our Governor is a crook and is 100% trying to dump potential democrats
only now DOJ is on to him

Adevarul

That this nation is even having a contrived debate about "targeting minorities" in determining voter eligibility is sickening and shows how far the PC police and special interests are willing to go to pervert the election process in the USA. This is VERY SIMPLE. If you are born here or can clearly show you have been granted the RIGHT to vote by proper process, then vote. If not, you do not have the RIGHT to determine elections in this country! Period! I have no problem showing an ID to prove I have the right to vote and the only people whining about that are those who are illegals and those who profit from their illegitimate votes. And that goes for either party.

Richard F


First he deletes all his emails from his transition team now this! It looks like they want to make decisions without the federal governments consent then ask for forgiveness later. This guy needs to go to jail...

FREEdumb

Hey Marc, What do you mean by "many have turned out to be lawful citizens and voters?" Is that 1 or 2 maybe 3?

And anyway, that's ok......they were just asked to be looked at for removal if found to be dead, illegal etc.

Jack Butler

actually it's the Attorney General's job to enforce the laws, maybe the governor should some sort of course in remedial civics?

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