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Justice Department files suit over Florida's voter-purging initiative

June 12, 2012|By Kim Geiger

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice is suing the state of Florida to halt its efforts to purge voter rolls of non-citizens who are illegally registered to vote.

The complaint alleges that the state has violated Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by relying on inaccurate and unreliable voter verification procedures and by conducting the purge within 90 days of a federal election. Florida has a primary scheduled for Aug. 14.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a statement that the state appears to have “undertaken a new program for voter removal within this 90-day period that has critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.”

The suit comes just a day after Florida sued the Department of Homeland Security for failing to allow it to check voter names against a database that contains citizenship information.

Perez sent the state a letter on Monday that warned that a lawsuit was imminent.

The purge began last year when Republican Gov. Rick Scott asked the state to identify non-citizens who are illegally registered to vote.

Officials checked the voter rolls against the state’s driver’s license database and have petitioned Homeland Security for access to its citizenship database, but the department says the database is not designed to be compared against voter registration rolls.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner defended the purge in a letter to the Justice Department earlier this month.  He said the purge is intended to “identify and remove noncitizens from [Florida’s] voter rolls [to] ensure that the right to vote of citizens is protected and is not diluted by the votes of ineligible persons.”

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