Florida to resume voter purge after Supreme Court decision

A court dismissed a challenge to the practice after a key part of the Voting Rights Act was struck down

By Jillian Rayfield
July 25, 2013 5:44PM (UTC)
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A District Court in Tampa has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Florida's voter purge, on the grounds that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act renders the lawsuit moot.

The suit, which was filed by a Hispanic civil rights group and two naturalized citizens, argued that the state needed to clear its purge of suspected non-citizens with the Department of Justice, because certain counties in Florida were covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.


The court also lifted a stay that prevented officials from selecting any new names of suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls.

Section 5 of the VRA requires that certain parts of the country with a history of discrimination at the polls get preclearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to voting laws. Section 4, which established a formula for determining which areas are covered under Section 5, was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June, rendering Section 5 inoperable.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act has taken away one of the primary tools we have used to challenge efforts to undermine democracy by suppressing minority votes,"  ACLU of Florida's Executive Director Howard Simon said in a statement.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said the state will now resume removing voters from the lists.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Florida Supreme Court Voter Purge Voter Suppression Voting Rights Act