Now that Florida Gov. Rick Scott is preparing to campaign for his 2014 re-election to the governor’s mansion, he is on the verge of re-launching the Florida voter purge.
In June, the Supreme Court dissolved the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And now that the Voting Rights Acts has been gutted, the gates have opened for Republicans to target minorities, who are mostly Democrat voters, in voter purges. Scott, who came under fire with lawsuits regarding voter purge last year, is wasting no time to resume.
Gov. Scott continues to hide behind the guise that voter purge is to merely prevent non-citizens from voting, rather than it being an election tactic to cut down on the Democratic vote. “If there’s anybody that we think isn’t voting properly, from the standpoint that they didn’t have a right to vote, I think we to do an investigation,” said Scott.
The Florida voter purge last year was severely mishandled and was an outright debacle. In Miami-Dade County, the purge wrongfully tagged 20 percent of those targeted in the purge as ineligible to vote. When accusing someone of, essentially, being a non-citizen, 20 percent is an extremely high fail rate. As the 2012 elections got closer, Florida’s list of thought non-citizens drastically fell from 182,000 to 2,600 to 198 people.
However, Gov. Scott’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner is compiling a brand new purge list based off of the Department of Homeland Security’s federal database of suspected non-U.S. citizens. Despite the practice being highly criticized for discrimination, Detzner’s director of elections, Maria Matthews, promises “responsible measures . . . and the integrity of Florida’s voter rolls.”
The problem with voter purge is that, before the Voting Rights Act was dismantled, federal courts found the practice unconstitutional and have usually ruled in favor of plaintiffs who filed suit. Since June, however, lawsuits filed against the state for voter purge have been thrown out and will not be heard again.
There no such thing as a fair voter purge, and voter purge isn’t a measure to ensure some type of voter fairness, separating eligible and ineligible voters.
Deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school said of purges that “they offer lots of opportunities for eligible voters to get improperly removed because they frequently happen in a rushed, haphazard manner behind closed doors. And the data is usually flawed.”
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.