Florida will continue to remove noncitizens from state voter rolls even after the U.S. Justice Department warned the program may violate federal law.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, an appointee of Republican Governor Rick Scott, said in a letter today to the Justice Department that the efforts are legal and nobody is removed without an opportunity to be heard. The state has identified about 2,700 potential noncitizens in its database of 11.2 million voters.
T. Christian Herren Jr., head of the Justice Department’s voting section, told Detzner in a May 31 letter that the state’s procedure appears to violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Ron Labasky, general counsel for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, advised supervisors in 67 counties to suspend the purge until the dispute is resolved.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the biggest prize among states that campaigns for both President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, view as competitive. In the previous three presidential elections in Florida, the combined vote for Republican candidates was 10.9 million and 10.8 million for Democrats.
Chris Cate, a spokesman for Detzner, said the purge of voter rolls would continue.
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