Local election boards in Florida advised to stop voter 'purge'
June 4th, 2012
01:58 PM ET
3 years ago

Local election boards in Florida advised to stop voter 'purge'

(CNN) – The legal counsel for Florida's local elections officers has recommended all counties in the state stop removing names from their voter rolls after the U.S. Department of Justice questioned the legality of the action.

In a recommendation dated June 1, Ron Labasky, a lawyer for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, advised all counties to stop the removal of names from the voter rolls until the Justice Department's concerns are resolved.

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"I recommend that Supervisors of Elections cease any further action until the issues were raised by the Department of Justice are resolved between the parties or by a Court," Labasky wrote.

The so-called "voter purge" would remove names from Florida's voter rolls months before the 2012 presidential election, when Florida will play a key role as a battleground state with a large chunk of electoral votes.

Florida's move to remove non-eligible voters from its voter lists began after the state's Republican Gov. Rick Scott pressed the state to identify non-U.S. citizens who had registered to vote illegally. Using information from the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the state identified more than 100,000 names of non-eligible voters that could potentially be on the lists illegally.

Critics say the plan unfairly targets minorities, and paint it as an attempt to dissuade typically Democratic voters from going to the polls.

The Department of Justice wrote in a letter Thursday that Florida failed to properly notify the federal government of their decision, writing the unilateral move violated provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Five counties in Florida are covered by the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation that gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be "pre-cleared" with Washington.

In its letter, the Justice Department also said the move appeared to violate a provision that prevents states from removing voters from rolls less than 90 days ahead of an election. Florida will hold a primary vote on August 14. Florida has until Wednesday, June 6, to respond to the federal government's inquiry.

On Monday, Evelyn Perez-Verdia, spokeswoman for the supervisor of elections in Broward County, and Carolina Lopez, spokeswoman for the supervisor of elections in Miami-Dade County, both said their jurisdictions would stop the removal of names.

Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections for the third largest county, Palm Beach, said her office never began the process of removing voters from the rolls since she felt the database used was outdated.

Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Elections, said his office was preparing a response to the Justice Department's letter.

On Friday, Cate cast the decision to remove names from the list as 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."

CNN en Español's Adriana Hauser and CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Also see:

Poll: Romney's favorable rating jumps, but Obama still more popular

Romney backer offers soft Obama praise

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Filed under: Florida
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    The Repubs are desperate to suppress voters because they know that Dems win when there is a large turnout.

    Pretty pathetic, but it's all the Repubs have; Lord knows all their economic, military and foreign policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    June 4, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Woman In California

    Good news on a rainy Monday morning. Keep fighting Floridians for justice and set an example to other states that voting is our right.

    June 4, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. California Gary

    This is a blatant attempt by the GOP to stack the deck in the November election........something that became necessary since the GOP candidate this time around does not have a brother in office as Governor to "take care" of things.

    June 4, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Voter fraud is a bogus smoke screen thrown up by the Repubs in their effort to distract voters from their lack of accomplishments.

    In Flordia, Miami-Dade County election officials sent out more than 1,500 warning letters and guess what? They found that onlyl 13 people that said they were not citizens. Out of those 13, they found that only two persons that weren't citizens said they cast votes in the 1996 and 2000 and 2004 elections.

    Elsewhere in the country, ff the more than nine million votes were cast in Ohio and Wisconcin in the 2002 and 2004 elections, exhaustive studies found only a handful of actual cases of voter fraud.

    There is no voter fraud – just a desperate GOP that knows the only way it can win is by suppressing voters. So much for their "freedom-loving" ways ...

    June 4, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Wake up people

    Wow, Florida just won't quit! Thank you DOJ. Now keep an eye on this state and many others. There are still 5 long months before the election and the the rethugs are spending billions, so you know they plan to cheat somehow. Heck Robmey is picking his transitional team. I heard Anne is measuring the White House for curtains and car elevators. Ok, I made up that last statement for laughs....

    OBAMA 2012!

    June 4, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. ST

    Oh! Floridians, please do not remind us the 2000 voting saga. It was very painful.

    June 4, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS

    Voter Surpression = Riots in the street

    June 4, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. sayer

    The GOP knows they have a loser candidate. If you can't win...cheat!

    June 4, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. demwit

    The two counties with the largest number of voters to be pergued.., OBAMA 2012!

    June 4, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS

    People better take this seriously. You think people who've been voting their whole life are going to take this sitting down? No!! The will rise up and rebel. These GOP governors are playing a very dangerous game.

    June 4, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. Sandy

    Illegals don't vote! What illegal person would try to vote and risk getting arrested? None! Use common sense people!

    June 4, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. WDinDallas

    Screw the DOJ....dead people should not be allowed to vote. This is not racist!

    June 4, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. cali girl

    Bad news for the rightys today.

    June 4, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. samieb51

    So let me get this straight .... to get a voter ID card you need to show proof of citizenship. But for some reason, if your last name is Diaz, you can still have yuor voting rights rejected. Makes perfect sense if you have your head in a tea bag.

    June 4, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. samieb51

    I am much much more concerned about ELECTION FRAUD this election cycle. And that's handled by the big guys, the "job creators" if you will, pulling all the strings they can to steal the election. I think the stats on votrer fraud is something like .00003%. So if you had 100000 ballots cast, that's 3 votes. The guy running the election however, on a computerized proprietary system, switch a few numbers on a spread sheet and you're done – that 100,000 votes for Obmaa just went to Romney!

    June 4, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Obvious Guy

    WOW. What a surprise that the Republicans tried to take voting rights away from citizens in the TWO MOST DEMOCRATIC COUNTIES IN THE STATE!

    Our two counties carry the Democratic vote for the state. It seems the Republicans feel they have to CHEAT in order to win.l It's sad.

    June 4, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Maggie

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Florida is trying to clean up the voter roll whereas not allowing non-citizens to vote and the DOJ has stopped them. What does that tell you....the DOJ wants illegal voting to continue because it will benefit Obama and the democrats. If this is what you call democracy, then I can see why some countries do not want it because it is a cheating process. Even in some third world countries voters have to show Voter ID. America is suppose to be such a sophisticated country and the DOJ is objecting to it.........I wonder why?????? VOTER FRAUD ALERT COMING IN NOVEMBER 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. ducdebrabant

    If the Republicans went ahead and did this without informing the Justice Department, they may have been confident that the Republlican majority on the Roberts court would help them by overturning the Voting Rights Act of 1964. They may, in fact, be right. Matter of fact, they may even have had reason to KNOW it would be the case. Not only might this not be over, we may be about to witness the return of Jim Crow laws full-on, including poll taxes and the notorious "literacy tests."

    June 4, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. John, PA

    Florida wake up, as a States; you have the right to control the voter roles, ignore the corrupt Obama DOJ .

    June 4, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Bren

    The Florida Governor and Attorney General need to FORCE Broward and Miami-Dade counties to continue with the purging--to get the illegal and dead Obama voters off of the voter rolls.

    And, keep fighting Florida. Make Holder take you to court........In the meantime, until it gets to court, those illegal/dead Obama voters will be purged out of the voter system.

    June 4, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Helen

    Here we go again!! The Repub Governor is trying everything to make sure they steal the elections in November. These are the people who call themselves Christians!! Don't they read the Bible? "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL" They are a bunch of thieving, lying, hypocrites and a disgrace to the human race. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    June 4, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. 23 from Texas

    I am reading the comments on this post... and all I can see are dead brain cells. Dems are stupid.

    June 4, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Ron in California

    How many dead people does it take to reelect a President?

    June 4, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. yolanda

    You have to show a photo ID to take the SAT's, but no ID required to vote......and all the posts here are from embittered people who offer nothing constructive, but rather negative comments on anything that does not fit their (limited) world view.
    Sad.

    June 4, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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