Two Miami-Dade County voters and Hispanic voting groups have asked a federal judge to halt Gov. Rick Scott’s revised to purge voter rolls of non-citizens, saying it comes too close to the Nov. 6 election and remains problematic. Lawyers for Karla Vanessa Arcia and Melande Antoine and a variety of voting-rights groups including the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, filed the request in a federal court in Miami Wednesday night. The groups reached a settlement with Scott’s administration last week and dropped three other portions of their complaint but now are asking Judge William Zloch to stop the effort. Secretary of State Ken Detzner last month revamped the effort, the subject of multiple lawsuits, and switched to using the federal Department of Homeland Security Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or “SAVE,” database to vet a list of potential noncitizens. The list had been created by matching state driver’s licenses and voter registration records. Detzner said the federal database will result in a less problematic list than one sent to elections supervisors in April. State and local officials abandoned the purge this spring after it was discovered that many of the flagged 2,626 voters were naturalized citizens — including Arcia and Antoine — and, therefore, eligible to vote.
In the new filings, lawyers argued that the purge violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which bans systematic voter purges within 90 days of an election. Tallahassee U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in a separate case related to the purge sided with Scott’s lawyers and determined that the 90-day barrier applies only to removing voters who were at one time eligible to vote and not to non-citizens, who never should have registered at all.
Hinkle was wrong, Katherine Roberson-Young, an attorney representing the Service Employees International Union, and other lawyers argued. “Through the 90-day provision, Congress intended to protect eligible voters from the inevitable inaccuracies of systematic purges conducted in close proximity to an election. The need for such protection does not depend on the type of ineligible voters the purge targets,” the lawyers wrote.