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DOJ sues Florida to stop purging of voter rolls

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced on Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] seeking to halt Florida's ongoing purging of voter rolls. The DOJ alleges that Florida's policy violates the National Voter Registration Act (VRA) [text], which requires all voter roll maintenance to cease 90 days before the primary election, meaning all purging in Florida should have stopped by May 16. The DOJ sent a letter [JURIST report] earlier this month demanding that Florida end its purging. In response, Florida indicated that it would continue [Huffington Post report] purging its rolls, and subsequently filed suit [JURIST report] seeking access to the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program System of Records (SAVE) [text, PDF], in order to better verify citizenship of registered voters. The DOJ filed suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] after Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] repeatedly refused to end the purging program.

Florida has faced numerous challenges to its election laws and policies. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) has also filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking to end Florida's purging program. 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. Earlier this month, judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida blocked [JURIST report] part of a new Florida election law that required any group that conducts a voter registration drive to turn in registration forms within 48 hours of collecting them or else face a $1,000 per day fine. Florida took also initiatives against the federal government interfering with state's enactment of voting laws. Last October, the state submitted a request [JURIST report] to a federal court challenging the VRA.

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