Florida Plaintiffs File Suit to Protect Their Right to Vote Statewide
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, civil and voting rights organizations Advancement Project, Fair Elections Legal Network, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and Project Vote filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Karla Arcia, Melande Antoine and five organizational plaintiffs affected by Governor Rick Scott’s voter purge program. The organizational plaintiffs are Veyeyo, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Inc., National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Florida New Majority, and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – Florida.
The lawsuit challenges the legality of the program because it is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in voting. It is also in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Under Section 8 of the NVRA, programs that systematically remove voters must be completed 90 days before a federal election. Florida will hold congressional primaries on August 14, 2012; therefore, the 90 day period began on May 16, 2012. Continuing to engage in the program, as Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Dentzer have confirmed the state will, is in violation of the protections the NVRA provides to eligible voters.
“This lawsuit will protect eligible voters in every county in Florida from walking into a polling place only to find that the state has erroneously decreed they cannot participate in this election. This purge is profoundly undemocratic and must be stopped,” says Catherine M. Flanagan, director of the Election Administration Program, Project Vote.
Of the list of nearly 2,700 voters that the state has flagged as possible non-citizens on the voter rolls using a faulty data matching process, over 500 have already shown documentation that they are citizens and eligible to vote. A program with a high error rate that places the burden on the voter to proof citizenship will end up disenfranchising hundreds of eligible voter’s right before the election with little time to correct the error and restore their right to vote. READ MORE