Local election boards in Florida advised to stop voter 'purge'
June 4th, 2012
01:58 PM ET
2 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:

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

    disallowing minorities to vote because they arent going to vote for you is not states rights. the ppl they are trying to turn away are legally allowed to vote. they say they arent citizens but they are. if you got your driver's license when you werent a citizen but then you became a citizen after, then guess what, that driver's license is valid and you are a citizen who can vote

    June 4, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Is the DOJ going to check the names they purged and put them back in again if they shouldn't have been removed?
    Remember folks, Florida was the state that handed the shrub #43 the I'll gotten presidency and our country went down the toilet thanks to tahT woman in fl sith the Tammy Faye eyelashes and the old farts in the supreme court!!

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

    to 23 from Texas! After getting to know the idiots you put in office in your "great" state, I find it funny you think Dems are stupid. I really wish Texas would leave the Union already! We don't need you any more.

    June 4, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. MrManhattan

    Just imagine how much better America, and probably the world in general, would be if this happened 12 years ago.

    June 4, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Obvious Guy

    @Maggie

    Have you ever been to Broward or Miami-Dade? You know what it has a lot of, LEGAL immigrants, seniors, and former New Yorkers. We do not have ILLEGAL immigrants here. But you are pretty stupid sounding and probably are afraid of the 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse also.

    June 4, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Como

    Really? How about the Floridian using my dead father in law's SSN to get a fake ID and then vote. Purging voter records can and should be done. This has nothing to do with preventing minorities from voting. This is an insult to a nation that fought a bloody civil war to allow Black Americans to be free and finally vote, that extended sufferage to people of all colors, genders, religions and beliefs. A country that voted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, oh remember the one that the Democrats were filibustering while the Republicans voted the law in. Remember the KKK was created and operated as a Democratic Party machine from 1868 to 1968 with its sole purpose to keep minorities from voting. A country that elected a Black President, a Black Secretary of State, Black Chiefs of Staff, Black state governors and mayors. Take your insulting race baiting and move to another country.

    June 4, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. mamacho

    According to the GOP the Dems get away with voter fraud every election. However it was the GOP Secretary of State (the person responsible for overseeing elections in the state) of Indiana who was actually convicted of voter fraud. Just makes you laugh at the level some people will stoop to.

    June 4, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. California

    Racist Chitown mob (Obama administration, Holder) at it again. The dictatorship is in full force.

    June 4, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Bren

    For some very interesting results/facts.....Go to Yahoo and type this in the search bar.......Democrats + voting fraud

    June 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Kris Craig

    Not this time, Florida. Not this time. =)

    June 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. larry5

    If the federal government can force Florida to let illegals vote, what's next? Maybe Obama can ban people that make disparaging remarks about the President and/or the Democratic party on Internet forums from voting. How about counting votes from people that work in the private sector with no union affiliation as half a vote? They could also expand Eric Holder's program and have members of the New Black Panther's monitor polling sites to make sure that white people behave themselves and vote properly. Holder has proven the value of the New Black Panthers to the cause and his willingness to support and promote them and protect them from old fashioned white people's laws. It's this kind of attention to detail that holds the key to Obama's re-election.

    June 4, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Bren

    For some more interesting results/facts.........Go to Yahoo and type this in the search bar........Illegals + voting in elections

    June 4, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. scmom

    And some of you people will never get this no matter what. The whole point is yes we need to show ID, everyone needs to have some form of ID. The point is why this year is it so important? Why do we have govenors spending our tax money to fix something that isn't broken. Why are they all making a big deal for this election cycle? I know you die-hard believers will never get this, but our system is not broken except where you have republicans wanting to steal the election then they will commit fraud trying to prove that there is no fraud. This election cycle is so unreal!!!!

    June 4, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Pander Bear

    Maggie, Ron, WD et al: Please cite actual, credible, provable instances of voter fraud to back up your claims. We'll wait...and wait...and wait.

    June 4, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. George Raemore

    It would appear that Florida is NOT the only state trying to remove registered voters. I wonder what other "trickery"
    these "well intentioned" individuals and states are doing to limit the vote? Can we identify and make transparent the respective political party that is in control in these respective states?

    And, who has any verifiable statistics on "voter fraud." Claiming "voter fraud" is insufficient. Anybody can make a "claim" about almost anything.

    June 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I don't understand how some people can sleep at night when pure evil is lurking around them, just pure evil.

    June 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. miketheenforcer

    @Como: If I hear one more right-winger say that it was Republicans who got the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed I will vomit. President Lyndon Johnson, definitely no Republican, put his political "life" on the line to get it passed and his opponent in the 1964 election, Republican senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, opposed the Civil Rights Act and was rewarded with the electoral votes of five Southern states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina) along with his home state of Arizona, will losing the other 44 states to Johnson in a landslide. The "Democrats" you refer to included Sen. Strom Thurmond, who became a Republican in the wake of the passage of the Civil Rights Act as did many so-called Democrats in the South, including Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, whose last public appearance was at a campaign rally for Bob Dole in 1996. The opposition to civil rights for African Americans is what Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan used to turn most of the South into the Republican bastion it is today. And, on your little "KKK" comment, who was the REPUBLICAN nominee for U.S Senate in Lousiana in 1990 and for governor in 1991? David Duke, the Grand Dragon of the Klan. Enough said.

    June 4, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Maggie

    @ Sandy
    You are really niave to think that illegals do not vote. Wake up and smell the coffee......you are living in a dream world. I have heard people who are not citizens who have voted when they are not suppose to but I guess they were voting democrat.

    June 4, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. grahame rhodes

    Thank god I live in Canada. We vote the idiots in legally

    June 4, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Devon

    Romney Rubes Ryan Rove Voter Surpression act of 2012. Its the only shot Bishop Tabby Nackle has.

    June 4, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Malory Archer

    Very clever of you Bren. Go to Yahoo and type THIS in the search bar............republicans + voting fraud

    Ironically, many of those complaining about being purged from the rolls here in Florida are republicans. One, a 38 year-old female with an Hispanic last name who was born in Ohio and always votes repub was one of the first to make waves. As for the "dead voters in Miami" voting for Obama, Cubans are staunch rightwingers. Dead or alive, they DON'T vote dem.

    June 4, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Devon

    Yo POS Romney, Voting is a RIGHT not a Privlidge. Quit it !!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Malory Archer

    Como

    Really? How about the Floridian using my dead father in law's SSN to get a fake ID and then vote. Purging voter records can and should be done.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    How did you learn about someone using your father in law's info to vote? Since you KNOW this happened you MUST know what happened to the culprit. Were they arrested and charged?

    June 4, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Devon

    Ring Ring, Hi Mitt its Gov Bush, Yo Gov, Can you rig this one liked you did for your Bro in 00???? Im on it Mitt. Thanks Jeb!!!!! & can your Bro Geogre call me & tell me how to strart Wars on False Pretences??? He can do better than that Mittster, He can show you how NOT to pay for the!!! Mitt responds COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Trailboss

    This is the same game the Gas,Oil and Petroleum ( GOP ) with the gay issues,women issues, bedroom issues let's be honest these don't like nothing and nobody.This is what I see is a group of about fifteen at the most of a butch of Confederates trying to bring the United States down. Think about this none of the ones holing the loudest have never been in the military but want to keep the war going WHY ? If you're fighting a war there is one thing you'll always need and that's Gas,Tires and Oil. Check out where their invest their money and you'll understand why the GOP want to hit Iran. If you're fighting a war the GOP is making money.

    June 4, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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