Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s attempt to establish confidence in Florida’s upcoming purge of voters has raised more questions than it answers. Rather than providing information on how this round of purges protects the integrity of the voter rolls, his so-called Project Integrity tour has proved that this voter-list-maintenance process lacks transparency, support and validity. Throughout his meetings with supervisors of elections and the public, Detzner and his staff did not answer many important questions on how the state plans to remove suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls while not repeating the same mistakes of the past. Despite Project Integrity’s façade of explaining the purge process and touting its validity, several supervisors of elections expressed concern with the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s SAVE database and the process of carrying out this purge. Many questions remained unanswered, such as what the potential cost will be and what the procedure will be to correct wrongly targeted voters.
In addition to the questions about the SAVE database, the Secretary of State’s office did not provide start and end dates for the purge, but it stood its ground on potentially carrying out the removal of voters from the rolls up until Election Day. This is the same mistake this office made in 2012, which resulted in a court battle that is still being fought today.
On Oct. 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit heard oral arguments in Arcia v. Detzner, regarding the 2012 flawed Florida voter purge, which targeted hundreds of citizens for removal from the voting rolls. The Fair Elections Legal Network, of which I am president, joined other groups in the case, which was argued by the law firm of Jenner & Block pro bono.
The case is an appeal from the October 2012 ruling in District Court which, in our view, incorrectly held that the National Voter Registration Act’s requirement that voter-list-maintenance programs must be stopped during the last 90 days of a federal election did not apply to Florida’s purge of suspected noncitizens.
This is just the latest battle in Florida’s history of problematic purges. Yet, the secretary of state’s actions make it obvious that Florida has not learned from these mistakes.