Appeals court finds 2012 Florida voter purge violated federal law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] violated federal law when attempting to remove "non-citizen" voters from the rolls in the 2012 presidential election. The court ruled that the voter purge before the election violated the National Voter Registration Act [text, PDF], which requires that all states complete any program that will systematically remove ineligible voters from official lists no later than 90 days prior to an election. In the opinion, Judge Beverly Martin stated:

Eligible voters removed days or weeks before Election Day will likely not be able to correct the State's errors in time to vote. This is why the 90 Day Provision strikes a careful balance: It permits systematic removal programs at any time except for the 90 days before an election because that is when the risk of disfranchising eligible voters is the greatest.
The purge was one of two separate efforts by Florida to remove suspected non-citizens from the rolls before the 2012 presidential election. Since the state used a flawed system of flagging ineligible voters, many were wrongly removed, including a 91-year-old World War II veteran.

Issues regarding voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] have been controversial for quite some time, especially around the time of the 2012 presidential election. In June the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. In 2006 Congress had voted to extend [JURIST report] the VRA for an additional 25 years. In October 2012 the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida actually ruled in favor [JURIST report] of Florida's plan to remove 180 suspected non-citizen voters from its voter rolls prior to the 2012 presidential election. Also in October 2012 a judge from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued an injunction [JURIST report] preventing Pennsylvania's voter identification law from taking effect for the 2012 election. The same month Mississippi's attorney general made a similar announcement stating that its new voter identification law would not take effect [JURIST report] until after the 2012 election.

 

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