Florida sued the U.S. Department of Homeland security over access to a database to verify the citizenship of residents as the state seeks to purge noncitizens from its voter rolls, a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said.
Florida claims DHS has refused to give it access despite repeated requests.
After the state filed suit, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez slammed Gov. Rick Scott's move in a terse five-page letter.
Calling the state's program "faulty," Perez said the purge comes too close to elections and will endanger the right of thousands of lawful citizens to cast ballots, The Miami Herald reports.
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Perez faulted Florida for ignoring warnings by the Justice Department to stop the voter purge. And he threatned a suit as well against the state.“I have authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in federal court," he wrote.
“The significant problems you are encountering in administering this new program are of your own creation,” Perez wrote.
“Your claim that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security have worked in concert to deny Florida access to the SAVE Program is simply wrong,” Perez added. “Please immediately cease this unlawful conduct.”
"We have a right to this database,” Florida Gov. Scott said on Fox’s Your World Cavuto show, according to the Miami Herald. “It's supposed to be used for voting registration. I look forward to them giving us the database but, again, we don't' have a choice but to sue them this afternoon.”
Florida’s lawsuit is part of Scott and the state's effort to remove illegals from voter rolls. About 87 noncitizens have been found on the voter rolls so far, at least 47 of whom may have unlawfully cast ballots, according to the Herald.
Florida’s elections division started comparing a motor vehicles database against some citizenship information, acknowledging that that information can be out of date.
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Florida initially believed some 180,000 people might be non-citizens. So far more than 500 people have been contacted on the list and most have been lawful citizens.
The Department of Justice ordered the state to drop the purge two weeks ago saying it likely violated voting laws, particularly the National Voter Registration Act, which bans voter purges within 90 days of a federal election.
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Florida in federal court to stop the purge saying it unfairly targeted minorities.
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