Florida’s governor said a U.S. government request to block the state from removing non-citizens from voter rolls was rejected by a federal judge.
Rick Scott, the Republican governor, said in an e-mailed statement today that the court dismissed U.S. Justice Department arguments that the effort to purge voters was a violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The court said permitting known non-citizens to cast ballots would result in “irreparable harm” to eligible voters, Scott said in the e-mail.
The ruling couldn’t immediately be verified in court records.
“We know from just a small sample that an alarming number of non-citizens are on the voter rolls and many of them have illegally voted in past elections,” Scott said. He said the ruling “puts the burden on the federal government to provide Florida with access to the Department of Homeland Security’s citizenship database.”
On June 11, Florida sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for access to the database. On June 13, the U.S. sued Florida in federal court in Tallahassee, the state capital, claiming that the National Voter Registration Act “expressly forbids” efforts such as Florida’s removal programs during the 90-day period before federal elections.
The Justice Department warned Florida in a letter last month that the program to identify ineligible voters may violate federal law, including the law requiring a review of changes to voting practices in states with a history of racial discrimination.
Scott has defended the purge as a means of fighting voter fraud. Florida Democrats have assailed it as an effort to give presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney an advantage over President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in a swing state four months before the general election.
Justice Department lawyer Elise Shore didn’t immediately return a call or e-mail seeking comment on the governor’s announcement of the ruling.
The case is U.S. v. State of Florida, 12-cv-00285, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida (Tallahassee).
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