Friday, June 1, 2012

Florida Purge Halted by Feds


Some good news out of Florida for a change, at least for now. A Federal Judge ruled yesterday that the "24-hour limit" for helping to register someone to vote was unecessarily strict. Then last night, the Department of Justice announced that they are getting more involved with the fight to stop the purging of the voter rolls in Florida by Governor Rick Scott. About time!  The League of Women Voters and even schoolteachers were being threatened with large legal fines, and people who are citizens of this country are being scrubbed from the voter rolls. Something had to be done.

From the Tampa Bay Times
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle told the state it cannot require groups to submit voter registration forms within 48 hours or face $1,000 fines. Nor can the state force those groups to disclose names of volunteers who don't collect the forms, Hinkle ruled.
"The short deadline, coupled with substantial penalties for non-compliance, make voter registration drives a risky business," Hinkle wrote. "If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed."
... Hinkle said voter registration activity is protected speech under the First Amendment. His injunction means that groups will have 10 days to submit voter forms, as they did before the law was changed.
. . . It's a victory for three grass roots groups that brought the lawsuit: Rock the Vote, the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund and the League of Women Voters of Florida, which suspended all voter registration efforts after the law took effect.
"We are really delighted," said Deirdre MacNab, president of the League of Women Voters. "It knocks out the poor parts of an unreasonable and unconstitutional law. Our volunteers are eager to get back to work."

And the Department of Justice sent Florida a letter serving notice that they are watching the voter purge to see if it is justified (of course it isn't!).

From Naples News:
T. Christian Herren, chief of the department's voting section, sent a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner that said the state's actions appear to violate two federal voting laws. Florida has used a search of a driver's license database to try to identify non-citizens who are ineligible to vote. Herren's letter said the actions do not comply with part of the federal Voting Rights Act that requires Florida to get a sign-off from the Department of Justice or a federal court for actions that affect five counties with a history of discrimination.
. . . The letter also said Florida could be violating another law known as the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which includes standards for how voter lists are maintained. Part of the law requires states to finish the systematic removal of ineligible voters 90 days before a primary or general election --- a deadline that passed May 16 for Florida, which has a primary on Aug. 14. The Department of Justice gave Detzner less than a week to say how the state will deal with the possible legal violations.
. . . "Specifically, please advise whether the state intends to cease the practice discussed above, so that the department can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."
Of course, Florida is protesting that it never meant to suppress the vote. They are just saving the country from voter fraud.

From CNN
In a statement, Chris Cate said the decision to remove names from the list was essential to preventing non-citizens from casting ballots illegally.
"The Department of State has a duty under both state and federal laws to ensure that Florida's voter registration rolls are current and accurate. Therefore, identifying ineligible voters is something we are always doing," Cate wrote.
He added that the action was not meant to prevent minority voters from voting.
"The political party and race of the potential non-citizens is not a factor at all in our process," Cate wrote. "We are only concerned about identifying ineligible voters and making sure they can't cast a ballot."
Yeah, right. *eyeroll*


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