The federal government is letting Florida use a Department of Homeland Security database of noncitizens to help purge voters from the state’s rolls. But voting rights activists say the fight over Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial purge is far from over. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) listens during the 2011 Governors Summit of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on June 20 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)The agreement, a victory for Republicans, comes after months of back-and-forth between Scott’s administration and the federal government over access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database, which is designed to determine eligibility for benefits — not voting. Republican administrations across the country are cracking down on potential voter fraud, mostly through more restrictive voter ID laws. The Department of Justice has been fighting many of these efforts, with the support of Democrats who argue that the real goal is to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Florida is being closely watched by both sides because the attempt to proactively remove ineligible voters from the rolls goes a step beyond other states’ efforts.
Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate said the agreement will be signed within days and the Scott administration will begin checking names against the database. “Homeland Security has been very cooperative,” he said. “The names we’re going to be sending to supervisors are names we have absolute verification through the SAVE database that someone is a noncitizen.” Florida began attempting to remove ineligible voters from the rolls back in 2011 but could not get access to federal data on noncitizens. So the state relied on data from the motor vehicles department. Those records are sometimes out of date, and the false positives and bad press that emerged led most Florida election supervisors to halt the purge. Only two counties continued the effort.
“That was really the hiccup with the previous data, that it was only as good as someone’s last interaction with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles,” Cate said. With the new database, the state will “make sure were not inconveniencing any eligible voters.” But voting rights activists say an extra database makes little difference. “Our antennae are way up,” said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “We will be watching very, very carefully to make sure that eligible voters are not removed from Florida voting lists.”
Full Article: Florida voter purge fight isn’t over – The Washington Post.