Voter Purge Showdown

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL -- June 7, 2012 --

Thumbing his nose at a federal order to stop removing illegally registered voters from the voting roles, Secretary of State Ken Detzner says Florida is well within its rights.

"The supervisors just like myself have a legal responsibility to ensure that their voter roles are clean and that the persons that vote are eligible to vote."

The US Department of Justice gave the state a Wednesday deadline to stop the purge. Detzner responded with this letter defying the order and once again requesting use of a Department of Homeland Security's immigration database.

"That is probably the best database that we have in the country to determine whether someone is a citizen or not. The feds say the state's efforts are illegal because Florida host a primary in August and it's illegal to remove voters from the roles within 90 days of a federal election.

"The Feds say the state's efforts violate voting rights laws because Florida hosts a primary in August and it's legal to remove voters from the roles less than 90 days before a federal election."
The state identified more than three-thousand voters that might be registered illegally. Caught in the mix, were legal voters, some of them… war heroes.

"Many instances the individuals responded by demonstrating they were in fact citizens."
Ron Labasky, an attorney for Florida's supervisors of elections says most of his clients stopped the voter purge last Friday.

Reporter: Does this feud between the state and the federal government even matter?
Labasky: Well no I think that the supervisors have that authority to determine the quality of someone's registration.
Detzner says the DHS database would keep the state from misidentifying voters and he's willing to fight for access even if it means taking the feds to court.

A report written by DHS officials about the purpose of its immigration database says it's quote "for Any legal purpose such as background investigations and voter registration." That's why Detzner says he's puzzled the feds won't make it available to him.

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