Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Judge refuses to block voter purge
Posted Jun 27, 2012 by William March
Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
From AP: A judge on Wednesday rejected a request by federal authorities to block Florida’s contentious move to remove potentially ineligible voters from its rolls.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said there was nothing in federal voting laws that prevents the state from identifying voters who may not be U.S. citizens even if it is close to the upcoming Aug. 14 election.
The U.S. Department of Justice sued earlier this month to halt the purge, saying it violated federal law banning voter purges within 90 days of an election. U.S. officials also said the list used by Florida had “critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse voters.”
Hinkle said federal laws are designed to block states from removing eligible voters close to an election, not to block voters who should have never been allowed to cast ballots in the first place.
Gov. Rick Scott reacted quickly, saying the court “made a common-sense decision consistent with what I’ve been saying all along: that irreparable harm will result if non-citizens are allowed to vote.”
But a Scott spokesman also said the state is voluntarily halting the purge and won’t pursue it unless Florida can get access to a federal database that might help make the list more accurate. An early installment of the list contained numerous legitimately registered voters, some naturalized citizens and even some native citizens.
That raised a danger that legitimate citizens could be denied their right to vote, causing many of the state’s elections supervisors to stop acting on the purge list.