News Section: State Government
Purged Voters Sue Florida
2 voters and 5 groups file suit in Federal Court Alleging discrimination
BRADENTON – Five separate organizations and two individual Florida voters have filed suit in U.S. District Court, claiming that the state's controversial voter purge program is discriminatory. The suit, filed yesterday, is the first on behalf of individuals who were on a list of potential non-citizens flagged for removal from the voter rolls.
The complaint argues that the “purging of eligible voters from the official voter list” gave minorities “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect the representatives of their choice."
Karla Vanessa Arcia, a naturalized citizen from Nicaragua is one of the individual plaintiffs. Ms. Arcia was placed on the list, but hasn’t received notification that she must provide election officials with verification of her citizenship.
The second individual plaintiff, Melande Antoine, a naturalized citizen from Haiti, received notification, but was so concerned that she would not be able to vote that she went to her supervisor of election’s office to show her documentation. The suit claims that such rational fear is causing voters to do more than they need to.
The other plaintiffs include Immigrant Coalition Inc., Miami-based civic group Veyeyo, Florida New Majority, the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and United Healthcare Workers East Labor Union. The purge list, which includes about 2,700 names, was compiled by checking voter rolls against information held by the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database. Some inaccuracies include people who became citizens after they got their drivers’ license.
Earlier this month, a federal judge granted an injunction against some aspects of the program as part of a suit filed by the League of Women Voters. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against the state as well, claiming the process violated federal law.
On May 31, the department warned Florida in a letter that the state’s program violates federal laws, including a provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that forbids states from scrubbing their voter rolls less than 90 days before an election. Florida's primary is August 14. For its part, Florida has filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security that seeks access to their Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE), which the state would also like to use for scrubbing voting rolls.