The U.S. government wants to block Florida from resuming its purge of suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls, saying it would violate federal law.
The Justice Department filed papers in U.S. District Court in Tampa accusing the state of ignoring a requirement that it first obtain approval for such action because five Florida counties are subject to federal pre-clearance of changes in voting procedures: Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee, Hendry and Monroe.
The removal of noncitizens in a presidential election year has mushroomed into a major controversy, with Democrats and left-leaning voter advocacy groups accusing Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Party of using the purge to suppress voter turnout in a state widely seen as a must-win for both presidential candidates.
At issue is whether Florida’s on-again, off-again purge of noncitizens is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The feds say it is. The state says it isn’t.
The federal claim was filed Friday in a case brought by the ACLU of Florida and Lawyers Committee for Justice Under Law, seeking to halt any more purging of voter rolls. The case is before U.S. District Judge James Whittemore.