[JURIST] The Fair Elections Legal Network [advocacy website] and three other rights groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] on behalf of several Florida citizens and organizations challenging the state's purging of voter rolls. The suit is the third lawsuit filed against Florida seeking to end the controversial practice; similar suits have been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) [advocacy website; JURIST report] and the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website; JURIST report]. In a press release, the Fair Elections Legal Network said Florida's purging process was flawed, and that it hurts Florida voters:
Of the list of nearly 2,700 voters that the state has flagged as possible non-citizens on the voter rolls using a faulty data matching process, over 500 have already shown documentation that they are citizens and eligible to vote. A program with a high error rate that places the burden on the voter to proof citizenship will end up disenfranchising hundreds of eligible voters' right before the election with little time to correct the error and restore their right to vote.The lawsuit has asked the court to declare Florida's purging process illegal and to order the state to cease its practice and restore those citizens who have been removed from voter rolls illegally.
The purging of voter rolls in Florida has created controversy in recent weeks. Last week, amidst calls to end its purging practices, Florida filed suit [JURIST report] seeking access to a federal database that will help it verify the citizenship of registered voters. Earlier this month, the DOJ sent a letter [JURIST report] to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner demanding that the state stop purging its voting rolls, saying the process that is not approved under the Voting Rights Act (VRA) or the National Voter Registration Act. Despite the DOJ warning, a spokesperson for Florida Governor Rick Scott said that the state would continue to search for ineligible voters [Huffington Post report] and purging the rolls. The DOJ has alleged that the VRA requires all voter roll maintenance to cease 90 days before the primary election, meaning all purging in Florida should have stopped by May 16.