[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] that the state may move forward with its efforts to remove approximately 180 suspected non-citizens from its voter rolls. Several rights groups had filed suit to stop the purging process in Florida, arguing that it violated regulations in the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text] and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) [text, PDF]. The NVRA contains a provision that plaintiffs argued bars Florida from purging its rolls 90 days before the primary election. In his decision, Judge William Zloch rejected the argument:
Certainly, the NVRA does not require the State to idle on the sidelines until a non-citizen violates the law before the State can act. And surely the NVRA does not require a state to wait until after that critical juncture—when the vote has been cast and the harm has been fully realized—to address what it views as nothing short of “voter fraud” … The Court finds that the Secretary has a compelling interest in ensuring that the voting rights of citizens are not diluted by the casting of votes by non-citizens.
Florida has cut back significantly the number of registered voters it seeks to remove from the rolls. The state had originally compiled a list of more than 2,600 names of potentially ineligible voters. The revised list of 180 names was released last month after Florida gained access [JURIST report] to a federal immigration database.
Voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] remain a contentious issue in the US, particularly in the run-up to the November presidential election. A judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] on Tuesday preventing Pennsylvania’s voter identification law from taking effect for the upcoming presidential election. Also on Tuesday, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that the state’s voter ID law will not take effect [JURIST report]] before the November 6 election.There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, but the issue remains controversial.