The Department of Justice on Tuesday followed through on warnings that it would sue Florida over the state’s plan to remove noncitizens from its voter rolls. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Tallahassee, intensified a legal battle between the Obama administration and Republican leaders in Florida, a crucial swing state. Florida has asked county election officials to remove up to 2,600 voters who may be registered illegally. But the federal government’s suit says the state’s list is “outdated and inaccurate.”
The suit also says Florida cannot remove voters 90 days before an election (the state’s primary will be held on Aug. 14) and must have the Justice Department approve any changes to how voters register. “The Department of Justice has an overriding interest in protecting the rights of eligible citizens to register and vote free from unlawful burdens, while at the same time ensuring that ineligible persons do not register and vote in federal elections in violation of the law,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.