Yesterday, Florida GOP Chair Lenny Curry released a statement defending Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) plan to purge tens of thousands of voters from Florida’s voter roles. The purge is based on an error riddled list of purportedly ineligible voters which includes hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens in just one county. According to Curry, purging voters is just like a DUI checkpoint:
This past Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement put up checkpoints to ensure drunk drivers did not threaten the safety of fellow motorists. Undoubtedly, many of the drivers who were met by police were, in fact, not driving drunk. However, we accept the notion that on such a heavily traveled holiday, a few moments of inconvenience to law-abiding drivers is worth it if we can ensure safe highways. Similarly, officials in Florida are undertaking a methodical and reasonable effort to maintain the security of Florida’s voter rolls.While some who are citizens, and others who are not deceased, may be asked to simply participate in the verification process, thousands of these records do accurately reflect non-citizens and people who have died.
But, of course, police do not throw sober drivers in jail or take away their license. Curry’s metaphor would only make sense if Florida police randomly pulled over and jailed thousands of citizens, with little evidence they had been drinking, and then required them to show proof of their soberness before letting them out of jail.
Officials in Florida are carrying out the purge by sending an ominous and legalistic letter to voters targeted as non-citizens that requires them to request “an administrative hearing to present evidence” in order to dispute the State of Florida’s determination or be removed from the voter rolls. Moreover, the Florida voter purge disproportionately affects Hispanics and Democrats. Fifty-eight percent of the list of more than 2,600 potential non-citizens are Hispanic while Hispanics make up only 13% of Florida’s population, a fact that places Florida in likely violation of federal law. The Voting Rights Act not only forbids laws that are passed specifically to target minority voters, it also strikes down state voter procedures that have a greater impact on minority voters than on others.