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ACLU sues to stop purging of Florida voter rolls

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) [advocacy website] announced Friday that it has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] seeking to end Florida's controversial purging of voter rolls. The ACLU-FL contends that Florida's policy of purging voter rolls violates federal law, discriminates against racial minorities, and that in practice, citizens are frequently forced to re-verify their citizenship or lose their right to vote. In its complaint, the ACLU-FL alleges that Florida has continued its voter purging practices despite widespread reports of error. A lawyer for ACLU-FL said the lawsuit seeks to bar the state from causing further harm to Florida voters: "The state of Florida is violating federal law by subjecting citizens to this new and unnecessary requirement in order to exercise their right to vote. We are asking the court to protect the right to vote and stop this unlawful, targeted voting purge."

Last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter [JURIST report] to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, demanding that the state stop purging its voting rolls, a process that is not approved under the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text] or the National Voter Registration Act [text, PDF]. Under the National Voter Registration Act, Florida's voter roll maintenance must have stopped 90 days before the August 14 primary election, meaning all purging should have stopped by May 16. Florida also failed to seek the necessary DOJ or federal court approval for the process it used to purge voter rolls. Florida's process, which is designed to remove non-citizens from voter rolls, has caused some US citizens to be improperly flagged and removed from voter rolls. Despite the DOJ warning, a spokesperson for Florida Governor Rick Scott said that the state plans to continue to search for ineligible voters [Huffington Post report] and purge the rolls.

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