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The voter purge that could decide this election.
Writing at Rolling Stone, Ari Berman says that the Florida Republicans' voting purge is taking voter suppression to a "brazen new extreme." How brazen and extreme is it? Enough to make one county elections supervisor refuse to participate in it.

Think Progress interviewed Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, who has refused to purge the 115 voters the state identified in her county as being non-citizens and ineligible to vote. Bucher told Think Progress:

We need to make sure we have reliable and credible information, by a preponderance of evidence. We could prove that the information was not credible before sending letters and even the Division of Elections has admitted substantial flaws. I did not feel we had credible information and told them I wouldn’t send [any letters] until they could give me a better list.

This thing is not working out so well, we know the information [on which the state relied to flag these names] is very old. They [listed the voter's] last transaction date with [the Florida Department of] Highway Safety—in many cases, [that was 2000, 2002]. By now they probably have become citizens—I questioned immediately. [emphasis in original]

Bad lists be damned, the state not only isn't reconsidering the purge, it's going to intensify it. Which could mean tens of thousands of eligible voters purged from the rolls. So far, about 2,700 of the 180,000 plus voters the state has identified as being non-citizens have been challenged, and a very high percentage have been incorrectly identifed. Berman extrapolates from that data:
The first batch of names was riddled with inaccuracies. For example, as the progressive blog Think Progress noted, "an excess of 20 percent of the voters flagged as 'non-citizens' in Miami-Dade are, in fact, citizens. And the actual number may be much higher." If this ratio holds for the rest of the names on the non-citizens list, more than 35,000 eligible voters could be disenfranchised. [...]

As in 2000, the purge disproportionately targets Democratic voters. Two-thirds of the alleged non-citizens on the initial purge list reside in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County, which supported Obama by 17 points over McCain in 2008. The county had the third highest number of naturalized citizens from 2009 to 2011, meaning that many new citizens could very likely be listed as non-citizens in the state databases. Florida Hispanics, who voted 57 percent for Obama in 2008, are only 13 percent of the state's electorate but make up 58 percent of the non-citizens list. Whites, by contrast, account for 68 percent of registered Florida voters but only 13 percent of alleged non-citizens. Democrats outnumber Republicans on the list by two to one. [emphasis mine]

The possible 35,000 disenfranchised voters makes the infamous Katherine Harris, secretary of state in 2000, look like a piker. She only managed to get some 7,000 eligible voters purged. She should have used the "non-citizen" trick instead of just the "felon" one. But it still got the job done: A 537 vote margin (and the Supreme Court) gave the election to George W. Bush. Rick Scott will do everything in his power to steal this one, too, for Mitt Romney.

The purge has to be stopped, and it can't be just up to county officials in the state to do it. The federal Department of Justice has the authority to intervene and get an injunction against the state to stop the purge. The National Voting Rights Act gives the DOJ this authority, and Florida is in violation of it. The Act prohibits states from purging voter rolls in the 90 days before a federal election. Since Florida's primary is on August 14, they've missed that deadline.

What's more, the DOJ could intervene under the Voting Rights Act, because it requires that changes to rules, policies and practices governing qualifications and eligibility to vote in Florida are subject to preclearance procedures under Section 5 of that Act. The DOJ has all the grounds it needs to intervene and immediately suspend the voter purging efforts and launch an investigation.

Tell the DOJ to halt the purge. Sign our petition asking the Department of Justice to prevent Florida's planned voter roll purge.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu May 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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