June 12th, 2012
09:12 AM ET
9 years ago

After DOJ sues, Florida governor says 100 illegal voters justifies 'purge'

(CNN) – Removing non-U.S. citizens from lists of registered voters is a legal necessity, the Republican governor of Florida asserted Tuesday after his state was threatened with legal action by the U.S. Department of Justice over the so-called voter "purge."

Gov. Rick Scott said on CNN's "Starting Point" the state had identified "almost 100 individuals" who had registered to vote but weren't U.S. citizens.

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"Over 50 of them have voted in our elections," Scott said. "I have an obligation to enforce the laws of our land. You don't get to vote in Florida if you're a non-U.S. citizen.

Speaking at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said maintaining voting rights for citizens was critical.

"The right to vote is the lifeblood of our democracy," Holder said. "It is what makes this nation exceptional. The work that I have been doing, the department has been doing, the speeches that I have been giving are not – I am not advocating for a party. I am advocating for a principle. The principle is the right to vote."

On Monday, the Justice Department sent a letter threatening legal action against the state, citing violations of voting rights laws.

The lawsuit comes after the department began questioning the legality of the state's so-called voter purge program, which 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.

Using information from Florida'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.

The Justice Department letter states that the Florida program improperly uses the information collected from old driver's license applications, saying the data could be outdated.

"A number of persons will subsequently have become citizens and lawfully registered to vote," the letter states.

Three of the state's largest counties - Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach - agreed last week to end the removal of the names. The legal counsel for Florida's county election officials recommended halting the purge of names until the state responded to the federal government's legal assessment.

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

Scott said Tuesday that claim was bogus.

"This is not a partisan issue," he said on CNN. "This is not Republican or Democrat or independent issue. This is an issue that I want, all of us want, everyone wants every U.S. citizen to go and register to vote. Participate in elections. But non-U.S. citizens shouldn't be doing that."

Florida, which itself is suing the Department of Homeland Security for access to a citizenship database, was within its legal rights in moving ahead with the purge, Scott said.

"We need the Homeland Security database. Look, think about it. I don't know anybody that wants to say we want non-U.S. citizens to vote in our races. We want to do the right way. That's what we tried to do. Our secretary of state's office has been working with Homeland Security for months asking for this database so we can do it right," the governor said.

In 2008, President Barack Obama won Florida with 51% of the vote, and the state is classified as a "toss up" on CNN's Electoral Map in 2012. There are 29 electoral votes at stake.

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Filed under: Florida • Rick Scott
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. mcklapp

    I definitely do not want non-citizens voting. I have to wonder, however, why it took this governor so long to care about it. Did he think most of the illegals were Cuban and likely to vote GOP?

    This does seem illegal. Maybe Scott only has himself to blame for not taking his job seriously sooner.

    June 12, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Al-NY,NY

    Now that the election is getting close, these fools think they can play "innocent" with this blatent attempt at voter suppression. Where was the effort after 2008? Now they toss off thousands in an effort to corral 100. Good job there Governer

    June 12, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. tee27

    Update the report coming out of FL this morning is that the 100 illegal that Scott said voted is not true.

    June 12, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Common Sense

    Why would anybody let a non citizen vote? Why? Why?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are we stupid? C'mon people it is the law that only US Citizens only can vote. Great for Scott.

    June 12, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Ricke1949

    Voter registration in the US is worse than a third world country. How primitive. A vote any vote is important. An illegal vote in effect nullifies a legal vote. Hence illegal votes steal ones citizenship rights.

    June 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. b

    the doj suing yet another state for doing their job, doj , another waste of money
    doj needs to be on the border stopping the illegals from coming in

    June 12, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Evangenital

    A non-citizen cannot vote. There's never been a problem before! Republicans are spreading rumors, but cannot prove a damn thing.

    June 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. rs

    Florida- Messing up elections and democracy for 20 years!

    The GOP won't be happy until only rich, white men can vote!

    June 12, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Never in the history of this country has the federal government been so anti-state and an open advocate for lawlessness and total disregard for the laws of this nation. The Obama adminstration have openly REFUSED to enforce the laws of this country (ones they do not like) while suing states and others that HAVE enforced those laws.

    This reckless disregard for the laws of this nation by the Obama adminstration MUST come to an end in November. The rule of LAW must be returned or we are all in peril.

    June 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. unknown11

    So, the Obama administration supports non-citizens voting? That is something to think about. Anything to win, I guess.

    June 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Governor Rick "Stalin-Putin" Scott, Grand Wizard of the Florida KKK, Defender of the Realm, will direct his jack booted storm troopers to purge out the illegals that put him into office.

    June 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Sandy

    "Common Sense

    Why would anybody let a non citizen vote? Why? Why?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are we stupid? C'mon people it is the law that only US Citizens only can vote. Great for Scott."

    I hope your name is purged from the rolls! They are purging over 100,00 REGISTERED American voters to find less than 100 illegal voters. And word is that Scott lied about the 100 they found! Most of those you will find weren't citizens, but are citizens NOW. The records are not up to date. You are for purging thousands of legal voters to find MAYBE 100 illegals? WOW!

    June 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |

    What baffles me is, How do "non-citizens" get on to voter rolls when one has to register to vote?
    Illegal immigrants do not and can not register to vote.
    Someone needs to define the term 'non-citizen'.
    I think they are targeting Latino voters whom they suspect will not vote Republican

    June 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. lies from the right but mostly hate

    If their name does not show up at their precinct when it is time to vote then they should not be allowed to vote. Plain and simple

    June 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Mark from Louisiana

    The obama administration is doing everything they can to block voter ID laws. Yet for their National Convention this summer you will need a photo ID to enter the convention.
    Once again the liberals tell us: "Do as I say, Not like I do"

    June 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. GunnerGA

    Until the GOP can show actual VOTER fraud and not registration fraud, they have no case. Show me a person who is illegal voting and perhaps we can start this discussion. Otherwise, you have simply the false registration. While that is illegal, it is often the result of poor registration efforts and rarely an intentional attempt to commit fraud. Show me one of these illegal registrars actually showing up to vote with the intent to cast a fraudulent ballot... then you have voter fraud.

    I would bet you that there is more fraud in those electronic voting machines with no paper records than you will ever get from an individual.

    June 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    enuff - There is a reason counties in Florida are listed under the voting act of 1965.
    This is NOT 1965. The problems today are entirely different. The federal government has refused to defend our borders from an invasion of illegal aliens. They have completely permeated our society, including our election processes. THAT is the ultimate in illegal behavior as it denies legal citizens of their vote.

    June 12, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. flip

    Governor Rick "Stalin-Putin" Scott will now send out his jack botted shills to purge the illegal voters that put him into office in the first place.

    June 12, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. scmom

    @Soapboxshrink, the president did not start this purging. The republican governors are doing this. You will never understand why this is wrong. There is nothing wrong with what showing id at the polls that's only right. But the point is they are doing it against the Civil Rights Act which include you too, and why this year? But you will only think certain rights are only for you if you are being treated unjustly to hell with everyone else.

    June 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. rick1948

    This is just a scam to guarantee the November election for the Republicans. The state can take the voting rights away from huge blocks of non-white voters. The next step in their process is that all of the people they did it to, then have to prove that they are citizens to get their voting rights back. All the state has to do then is drag their feet on processing the paperwork until after November. This is election fraud – nothing more.

    June 12, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Andre

    The part that DOJ is protesting is the law that states people may not be removed during a certain period of time (I think it was 90 days) before an election, and the primaries are coming up for Florida. The part they're really questioning is why NOW?! Why not last year, or even a month or two ago? You had plenty of time to fix the registration; why didn't you do this BEFORE? That's my concern.

    June 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Florida Voter

    Are you kidding me? We need to focus on getting people to vote, not denying people the right to vote.
    So many are giving up their duty to participate in this democracy. If more people took the time to vote, we would have a governor who cares about the people of this state and not just his own special interests!

    June 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Laura, Massachusetts

    Obama's DOJ will sue FL like they did in AZ. Keep going Mr. President, only 48 more states to sue (unless they agree with you.

    The fact that people who are non-U.S,.Citizens have voted and Obama is objecting shows that he needs all the illegals he can get to win the state of FL.

    June 12, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Georgia Tee

    The list of names the state requested from Homeland security, doesn't have the info required for FL. to know who is a non-citizen......can you say " lets suppress the vote again"

    June 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. EKIA

    This is a blatant attempt by liberals to hijack an election by allowing illegal votes. For every illegal that votes, a citizen is disenfranchised. Go Rick Scott.

    June 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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