Florida Gov. Rick Scott will resume the state’s purge of suspected non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls, now that a Supreme Court decision striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act has cleared the way.
“We were recently informed that the State plans to continue their efforts to remove non-citizens from Florida’s voter rolls,” Penelope Townsley, the Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor, said in a statement. Last week, Florida’s director of elections Maria Matthews also announced that the state will restart its push to “ensure due process and the integrity of Florida’s voter rolls.”
Scott, a Republican, is preparing to run for re-election next year. He has repeatedly said the aim of any purge is to protect the integrity of the voter rolls.
Advocacy groups called the review of non-citizens a thinly veiled attempt to disqualify Hispanic and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. A disproportionately large number of those identified in 2012 were either Hispanic or black, the groups said.
Last month, a District Court in Tampa dismissed a lawsuit challenging the purge, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act. The suit contended that the state needed to clear the purge with the Department of Justice, since certain parts of Florida were subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Section 5 of the VRA requires that parts of the country with a history of discrimination at the polls get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before they can make changes to their voting laws. Section 4 of the VRA established a formula for determining which areas are covered under Section 5, but was struck down by the Supreme Court in June, thus rendering Section 5 inoperable.