Think Progress has really been all over the Florida voter purge story, finally driving the kind of attention to the issue that it deserves. It’s really a case of a political party trying to steal an election in plain sight. When you see the head of the Florida Republican Party admit on national television that the purge is based on flawed data, but also that it must continue, you know that the ulterior motives are clear.
As mentioned, Think Progress’ coverage has led to news outlets finally paying attention to what’s happening in Florida, including Ari Berman at Rolling Stone. And at least one elections supervisor, in Palm Beach County, has rejected the voter purge list citing the high error rates associates with their generation, and will not be sending out notices to voters that their rights can be taken away if they don’t prove their citizenship within 30 days. According to the supervisor, the purge lists are “not credible.”
Amidst all this, voting rights activists surveying the scene in Florida got some additional good news. A federal judge today blocked a separate Florida voter suppression law, which is designed to make voter registration drives more difficult.
A federal judge blocked enforcement of key provisions of a restrictive voting law in Florida today, a breakthrough victory for Florida voters and voting rights advocates nationwide.
The law, H.B. 1355, included onerous restrictions on community-based voter registration drives, forcing the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups to shut down their drives. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that the Constitution and federal law prohibit most of Florida’s recently-passed restrictions, and highlighted the law’s impact on the Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
“Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one’s rights in a federal court. … [W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever,” U.S. Judge Robert L. Hinkle wrote in his opinion blocking most of the Florida law. “And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives—thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote—promotes democracy.”
Florida passed the law in order to crack down on voter fraud, a virtually non-existent practice.
This ruling will have no bearing on the voter purge, though it does show the lengths to which Rick Scott and Florida Republicans are willing to go to guarantee an election for their side. As for the voter purge, activists will continue to track the efforts throughout the state.