The effort, like voter suppression moves elsewhere around the nation, has reeked with the stink of partisanship from the get-go. As Joan McCarter reported six weeks ago, 98.4 percent of those Floridians on the first list of those to be removed from the voter rolls were eligible citizens. Fifty-eight percent were Latino even though they only make up 13 percent of the population. Racial profiling at work mucking with the right to vote. Where have we heard that before?
Under both the Voters Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the purge is already outside the law despite a federal judge's tendentious ruling in one case.
The first law places several states and counties in several others under special scrutiny because of previous adherence to Jim Crow laws that kept African Americans from casting ballots. Five of those counties are in Florida. Legally, policy changes like those embodied in the purge must first be submitted to the federal government. Florida didn't do that regarding the purge. The Department of Justice filed court papers on this failure nearly three weeks ago in a lawsuit to halt the purge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
A federal judge in June refused to grant an injunction under the 1993 act. That law prohibits voter roll purges within 90 days of a federal election. But the judge ruled, with what critics view as specious reasoning, that this does not apply to non-citizens. Nonetheless, for now, that bad ruling stands.
The latest move by Detzner follows on last month's decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow Florida to use the database of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program to ferret out non-citizens who may be registered to vote. Exactly how this can be done logistically isn't clear.
But even if they can make that work, Detnzer's got a whopper of a problem. The clock.
In an interview with Josh Israel at Think Progress, Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall, a Republican, said nobody in state government has contacted her about this and she doesn't see how the timing works:
The law hasn’t changed for the process we have to go through. You’re looking at the letter going out [to those identified by the state as potentially non-citizen voters], then they get 30 days to respond, [then the county would] advertise the names in the paper, [and after that it would require an additional] 30 days to remove [the voters] from the records. I don’t think we can do it. Physically, I don’t think we can do it. That doesn’t mean we can’t check to see after the election [if any non-citizens voted]… I don’t want anyone on the books who isn’t eligible, but that’s what the odd-numbered years are for.With only 83 days left until the election, there just isn't enough time to pull it off. That doesn't, apparently, mean Scott and Detzner will cease trying.