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Nelson tells LULAC voter purge, suppression aimed at them

Posted May 26, 2012 by William March

Updated May 26, 2012 at 09:04 PM

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told an Hispanic group in Tampa Saturday night that “voter suppression laws” in Florida, including an attempt to purge state voter lists of people alleged to be non-citizens, are targeted at them.

“The most precious right of all our rights in America is the right to vote, and it is being assaulted right here,” Nelson told the state convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC.

Nelson told the crowd he sent a letter Friday to Gov. Rick Scott criticizing the voter purge list.

In the letter, Nelson cited news reports saying the voter purge was initiated by Scott, not by local elections supervisors, and that then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning told Scott it was unnecessary.

The reports, he said, also say many of those on the list are legally registered citizens, and that the purge could prevent them from voting.

“Attempts to purge the voter roll so soon after signing one of the nation’s most controversial voter laws raises concern, especially among young and minority voters,” Nelson said in the letter.

Nelson said he’s had no response to the letter, sent Friday.

That referred to laws passed during the 2011 legislative session that Nelson has campaigned against. They curtailed early voting, which is popular with minorities; banned election-day name changes and out-of-county address changes at the polls, likely to affect college students and women; and imposed severe restrictions on voter registration by non-governmental groups including the League of Women Voters.

Several interest groups are suing to have those laws declared unconstitutional.

LULAC is non-partisan, but its membership tends to be Democratic.

State Rep. Anna Cruz, D-Tampa, also at the meeting, told the group discrimination against Hispanics is still happening in Florida, citing Justice Department anti-discrimination lawsuits including one she said was settled in 2010 by the Pasco County Fair Authority.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner told the group only 58 percent of the 214,000 voting age Hispanic population of Hillsborough County is registered to vote.