Florida’s proposed elimination of non-U.S. citizens from its voter rolls is necessary to preventing voter fraud, a spokesman for the state’s Division of Elections said Friday after the U.S. Department of Justice called into question the legality of the action. The so-called “voter purge” would remove names from Florida’s voter rolls months before the 2012 presidential election, when Florida will play a key role as a battleground state with a large chunk of electoral votes. In a statement, Chris Cate said the decision to remove names from the list was essential to preventing non-citizens from casting ballots illegally. “The Department of State has a duty under both state and federal laws to ensure that Florida’s voter registration rolls are current and accurate. Therefore, identifying ineligible voters is something we are always doing,” Cate wrote. He added that the action was not meant to prevent minority voters from voting.
“The political party and race of the potential non-citizens is not a factor at all in our process,” Cate wrote. “We are only concerned about identifying ineligible voters and making sure they can’t cast a ballot.” Florida’s move to remove non-eligible voters from its voter lists began after the state’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott pressed the state to identify non-U.S. citizens who had registered to vote illegally. Using information from the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the state identified more than 100,000 names of non-eligible voters that could potentially be on the lists illegally.