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03 June 2012

FollowUp 8: Voting Rights

Florida has been in the headlines recently, with Governor Rick Scott ordering a purge of thousands of registered voters from the rolls.  The New York Times Editorial Board weighed in against this blatant attack on Democratic voters.
They have cut back on early voting, tried to stamp out registration drives, and imposed onerous identification requirements. (A federal judge reinstated the registration drives on Thursday.) Now, hoping to gain a new edge, Gov. Rick Scott is trying to clear voter rolls of noncitizens, a menace that only he and a few other Republican governors have been able to detect.
Last year, Mr. Scott ordered the state’s elections division to compare the rolls to the federal Homeland Security Department’s immigration database, a request the federal government sensibly refused. Then, a few weeks ago, the state pressed the Department of Motor Vehicles into comparing the voter rolls to its list of driver’s licenses, which often has out-of-date citizenship information. It came up with nearly 2,700 voters considered suspicious and sent them letters demanding that they produce proof of citizenship within 30 days if they wanted to vote.
The Miami Herald explored the data and found that it is discriminatory.
Miami-Dade is the state’s most-populous county and has the largest foreign-born population. As a result, its residents are most likely to be flagged in a sweep of potential noncitizens.
Hispanics are the state’s largest immigrant group. As a result, they account for 58 percent of those flagged as potential noncitizens, a Miami Herald analysis found. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the state’s 11.3 million active registered voters.
Independent voters and Democrats are the most likely to face being purged from rolls. Republicans and non-Hispanic whites — the backbone of the Republican Party — are the least likely to face removal.
The Justice Department has stepped in.
The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered Florida to halt its effort to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls.
The Justice Department says that Florida's effort appears to violate both the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which governs voter purges.
But, Republicans in Florida are determined to continue, despite opposition in every county.
Despite the warning, [Florida Secretary of State] Detzner's representative said on Saturday the state intends to go forward with its campaign. "We have a year-round obligation to ensure the integrity of Florida's elections. We will be responding to (the Justice Department's) concerns next week," Chris Cate wrote in an email to Reuters.
While Florida's state officials continue to champion the plan, its 67 county election supervisors said Friday they will discontinue the effort to purge voters.
Vicki Davis, a Martin County elections supervisor who is also president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, told the Palm Beach Post they believe the state data is flawed and that they intend to heed the Justice Department's warning. "There are just too many variables with this entire process at this time for supervisors to continue," Davis said.
Florida is too close for the Republicans to risk a fair election.  This is far from the only place where dirty tricks may sway elections.  Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin will feature Republican attempts to prevent fraud at predominately Democratic voting locations.
[Wisconsin] Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen plans to dispatch criminal investigators and lawyers to the polls during Tuesday's recall elections to discourage fraud.
Van Hollen, a Republican, plans to deploy teams of special agents and assistant attorney generals across the state, including dispersing seven groups to the polls in Democratic-leaning Milwaukee. He said the agents and attorneys will help local election officials ensure voters comply with state election laws.
When there is real voter fraud, it must be stopped.  Being a minority or not having a driver's license or birth certificate does not constitute fraud.  These attempts to prevent American citizens from voting, these dirty tricks, are unAmerican.

3 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings article.
14 October 2011, FollowUp 1.
22 October 2011, FollowUp 2.
6 November, FollowUp 3.
14 November 2011, FollowUp 4.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
8 March 2012, FollowUp 6.
2 April 2012, FollowUp 7.

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