Florida has been trying to purge its voting rolls of non-US citizens, alleging that potentially thousands of people who are not qualified to vote have been registered to vote in elections. However, the state’s process for purging the voter rolls has caused controversy, with many alleging that legitimate voters are being questioned about their status. The newspapers have reported on veterans and long-time citizens being sent letters asking them to confirm their citizenship. In May, Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of State were working together to remove non-US citizens from the state voter rolls. However, many experts have noted that information from the Department of Motor Vehicles is not up-to-date and may not be the best way to determine who on the voter rolls is and is not a US citizen.
Now, Detzner is being sued in Federal Court over the program. Florida’s voter roll purging program has already been challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice. In that case, Florida counter-sued. Plaintiffs in the current Federal Court lawsuit include Karla Vanessa Arcia, the National Congress For Puerto Rican Rights, Melande Antoine, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Florida New Majority, and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The plaintiffs include two individual voters, a union, and four civil rights groups.
According to the complaints, the Alleged Non-Citizen Voter Purge Program uses information such as ages and names to identify people who may not be qualified to vote. Voters who have been flagged as possibly not qualified have a set amount of time to respond to the request for proof of citizenship. If they do not do so, they are removed from the voter polls. According to the plaintiffs, the program will remove qualified voters from the rolls.
The plaintiffs also allege that the Alleged Non-Citizen Voter Purge Program over represents minorities on the purge list. According to the complaint, 82% of the people on the purge list are minorities while 70% of registered voters in the state are white. 61% of the voters on the purge list are Hispanic, while only 14% of Florida’s registered voters are Hispanic. The plaintiffs allege that the program is discriminatory and falls in line with a long history of racial discrimination when it comes to elections.
According to the plaintiffs, the program is also doing a poor job of eliminating non-US citizens from voter rolls. About 2700 people have been contacted as part of the program and asked to verify their status. Of those who have responded, most have been citizens.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to stop the program. They are also asking for purged voters to be reinstated on the voter rolls. Finally, the lawsuit asks that the state create a new process which ensures that minorities are not deprived of an equal chance to vote.