In a win for civil rights and voter registration organizations, a Florida list of potential nonvoters will be released but will not be sent the state’s 67 county election supervisors, who have the authority to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls.
“When Governor [Rick] Scott announced his voter purge and bragged of a list of 180,000 overwhelmingly minority Floridians who could be kicked off the voter rolls, he was rightfully met with enormous public outcry and citizens stepping forward to challenge the accuracy of the list,” says Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
“After being faced with that outcry and multiple lawsuits challenging his administration’s actions, the governor has retreated from the initially planned voter purge and finally relinquished that list.”
In April, Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent 2,700 names from the list to county supervisors. Many names on the list belonged to citizens and critics said the list contained a disproportionate number of Hispanics.
State primary elections are on August 14 and the presidential election is on November 6.
Initially, 19 news organizations, groups and citizens had asked for the list and all has been denied but the state had an about-face on the issue.
“The set of 180,000 names is a public record,” wrote Chris Cate, a spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, in an email. “We are in the process of redacting it now so that it can be provided to everyone who has made a public records request.”
Scott said the issue at hand was noncitizens voting in elections.
“Irreparable harm will result if noncitizens are allowed to vote,” he said on June 27, the day a federal judge denied a request by the federal government to block purging efforts. “We have a year-round responsibility to ensure that the vote of a U.S. citizen isn’t diminished by the vote of a non-citizen, and we take this responsibility very seriously,” spokesman Chris Cate said in June.
Others, like the ACLU called it voter suppression of minorities and lawsuits ensued.
“Especially because Florida may be the key swing state in the November election, this is not likely the end of the voter suppression saga,” Simon said.
“We are prepared to fight back against any other effort to deny eligible citizens their right to vote.”