Commentary Magazine


Topic: voting rolls

DOJ Blocks Effort to Enforce Voting Laws

The New York Times editorial board members aren’t the only ones hyperventilating over the Florida voting roll purge, as John Steele Gordon noted earlier. The Department of Justice is now demanding that state election officials halt efforts to remove ineligible felon and illegal immigrant voters from its registration rolls, claiming the process may discriminate against minorities:

Florida’s effort appears to violate both the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act – which governs voter purges – T. Christian Herren Jr., the Justice Department’s lead civil rights lawyer, wrote in a detailed two-page letter sent late Thursday night.

State officials said they were reviewing the letter. But they indicated they might fight DOJ over its interpretation of federal law and expressed frustration that President Barack Obama’s administration has stonewalled the state’s non-citizen voter hunt for nine months.

“We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot,” said Chris Cate, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was ordered by Gov. Rick Scott to conduct the search for potentially ineligible voters.

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The New York Times editorial board members aren’t the only ones hyperventilating over the Florida voting roll purge, as John Steele Gordon noted earlier. The Department of Justice is now demanding that state election officials halt efforts to remove ineligible felon and illegal immigrant voters from its registration rolls, claiming the process may discriminate against minorities:

Florida’s effort appears to violate both the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act – which governs voter purges – T. Christian Herren Jr., the Justice Department’s lead civil rights lawyer, wrote in a detailed two-page letter sent late Thursday night.

State officials said they were reviewing the letter. But they indicated they might fight DOJ over its interpretation of federal law and expressed frustration that President Barack Obama’s administration has stonewalled the state’s non-citizen voter hunt for nine months.

“We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot,” said Chris Cate, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was ordered by Gov. Rick Scott to conduct the search for potentially ineligible voters.

Florida has found 2,700 registered voters so far that it believes may not be U.S. citizens. It has sent the list to local election supervisors for further investigation, which includes contacting the potential non-citizens by mail. If the individuals don’t respond within a two-month time frame, they may be removed from the voting rolls — which seems like a fairly logical request.

According to the Miami Herald, the problem is the Florida purge may be discriminatory because the list of potential illegal immigrant voters “disproportionately hits” the Hispanic community:

About 58 percent of those flagged as potential non-citizens are Hispanics, Florida’s largest ethnic immigrant population, a Miami Herald analysis found. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.

The DOJ could solve this entire problem by simply supporting voter ID laws. It would save state election officials the time and energy of figuring out who is and is not a legitimate citizen, and reduce the chances of human error during voter roll purges. Instead, the DOJ is doing the exact opposite, which just goes to show how serious this administration is about voting integrity.

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