STATEMENT: FELN Disappointed in Court Decision to Allow Florida to Purge Rolls

Release Date: June 28, 2012, 10:28 am

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hinkle rejected the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) emergency request for Florida to cease its voter purge program. Judge Hinkle stated in his ruling that the law in question, the National Voter Registration Act that forbids states from systematically removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of an election, does not apply to people, like noncitizens, who never should have been on the rolls. However, despite his decision, the lawsuit brought by the DOJ challenging the voter purge program is allowed to move forward.

He also chastised the state for how it has handled the matter stating, “Questioning someone’s citizenship isn’t as trivial as the state would have it.”

“We are deeply disappointed in Judge Hinkle’s decision not to halt Florida’s voter purge program. As the judge indicated during his ruling, Florida has used a faulty data matching program that could lead to thousands of eligible voters being purged from the voting rolls. Already, most voters identified in this purge program have proven to be U.S. citizens,” said Robert Brandon, president of Fair Election Legal Network. “While we agree that ineligible voters should not be allowed on the voter rolls, cleaning up those lists should be done with the utmost care and by following the law. However, this program places the extra burden on U.S. citizens. No other voter must show proof of citizenship to register to vote or remain on the voting rolls. Those eligible citizens who do not respond may be purged from the voter rolls and risk losing his or her vote. Florida should stop this effort immediately and restore the voting rights of anyone that has been affected by this faulty matching program.”