Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott passed a law that requires all new Florida voters to submit their voter registration forms within 48 hours of completion. Voters who do not turn in the forms within 48 hours consequentially do not get to vote. This has become problematic for Florida voters who are registered through third parties, as well as Independents and Democrats. Causing a 20% decrease in new voter registration, many people have been negatively impacted by Scott’s new law.
In an article on www.abcnews.go.com, Scott states, “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.”
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed a suit claiming Florida’s purge program violates two federal voting laws. The state is denying the motivation for implementing the law. Florida citizens on the political left view the voter purge as a collaborated effort by the Republicans to obtain votes. However, Secretary of State Kurt Browning and Gov. Scott claim that the purge became controversial because it wasn’t managed properly.
The state of Florida and the federal government are suing each other over Florida’s efforts to eliminate unlawful voters. While the federal government is suing to block the voter purge effort, Florida is suing in attempt to gain access to a federal citizenship database. Secretary of State Ken Detzner says he wants to be positive that the voter rolls are accurate. However, members of the Democratic Party believe the main reason for the voter purge is to motivate Tea Party voters, as it will aid Republican candidates.
President Obama’s administration was apprehensive of Governor Scott’s effort to target non-citizens and remove them from the voter rolls. According to a Miami Herald article, “The request came around the same time Scott signed a law cracking down on voter-registration drives and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. Browning has also gained suspicion amongst liberals as he lead a Conservative push in 2010 that was funded by a front group connected to the billionaire Koch brothers in attempted to thwart Florida anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments.” However, Browning states that he was unaware of their contribution.
The state asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to grant them access to SAVE, an immigration database, but the department has refused to disclose the information since October 2011. Browning’s elections divisions turned to Moter Vehicles and the Department of Highway Safety, which contained outdated and restricted information that often made lawful voters appear to be non-citizens.
The initial list said there were 182,000 potential non-citizens on the voter rolls. Elections divisions constructed a second list of nearly 25,000 potential voters. Browning knew that the voter purge would be both problematic and politically controversial because the non-citizen effort by Scott’s administration targeted immigrants, which would unequally impact minority groups such as Hispanics and Haitians. Out of the 2,700 person list, 87 percent are minorities.
As Republicans became concerned about the unlawful voters on the rolls, they began to question what action Florida was taking about non-citizen voters. Detzner, Scott and Browning’s successor released the list in April 2012 after feeling pressured by Republican citizens.
After discovering that 500 people on the list were identified as actual U.S. citizens, Scott stated that he was focused on making sure that U.S. citizens and Florida citizens do not have altered votes by non-citizens. Deciding to sue the Department of Homeland Security because they failed to release the citizen database after the state’s request, the Justice Department responded by stating that Florida failed to meet the requirements to use the database. Also, they accused Florida of violating the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act, blocking purges within 90 days of a federal election. On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Florida.
Browning continues to advocate that Scott’s actions have been misconstrued, believing the Florida Governor is doing the right thing.