The Department of Homeland Security will supply the state of Florida with a database that they can use to help verify their voter rolls, after an unfavorable court ruling forced their hand. The database is a registry of non-citizen residents.
The administration had blocked Florida’s request for access to the database for months, but the decision to allow access was spurred by a court decision in another voting-rights case in favor of the state […]
The Justice Department , however, raised concerns that method was violating the federal Voting Rights Act. After Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner filed a lawsuit to force DHS to share access to its Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database, DOJ filed a suit of its own to enforce the Voting Rights Act in the state.
A federal district court, however, ruled against the DOJ’s call for an injunction to immediately stop Florida’s voter purge.
More states, like Colorado, have asked for access to this DHS database, so one must assume that they will get it as well. However, purging voter rolls with less than four months until the Presidential election would appear to violate federal statutes anyway. And state elections officials in Florida rejected the initial voter purge efforts by the state’s Governor and Secretary of State.
The AP adds that the agreement included concessions on both sides:
After a judge recently ruled against federal efforts to stop Florida’s aggressive voter-list review, Homeland Security agreed to work on details for how the state can access the federal SAVE database – Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements – to challenge registered voters suspected of being noncitizens.
Florida has agreed that it can challenge voters only if the state provides a “unique identifier,” such as an “alien number,” for each person in question. Alien numbers generally are assigned to foreigners living in the country legally, often with visas or other permits such as green cards.
Unless they become naturalized citizens, however, they cannot vote.
The agreement will prevent Florida from using only a name and birthdate to seek federal data about a suspected noncitizen on voter rolls.
The SAVE list seems like a pretty blunt instrument for the purposes of purging voter rolls; it’s certainly not what it was designed to accomplish. If the undocumented immigrants on the SAVE list registered to vote, they would almost certainly not have an alien number. So this opens up all sorts of undesirable possibilities, like names from the SAVE list associating with names in the voter purge, and used to remove that individual from the rolls. The fact that the agreement “prevents” this occurrence isn’t really inspiring; it gives the state of Florida a leg up rhetorically to claim the rightness of their cause, and will send the rest to a drawn-out legal process. At the very least, it will intimidate that individual from exercising his or her voting rights.
As a federal judge has already refused to stop Florida’s voter review efforts, we have to assume that it will continue at some level. This is terrible news for voting rights activists. But the purge in Florida has not yet been restarted from a current suspension, so there’s still some maneuvering left to go. So far, 86 individuals, many of whom voted in prior elections, have been purged from the rolls.