Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Florida Secretary of State Sues Feds Over Voter Purge

TALLAHASSEE – Secretary of State Ken Detzner and the Florida Department of State filed a lawsuit on Monday against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for allegedly failing to meet its statutory obligation to provide access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database, a database of information necessary to confirm the status of potential non-citizens and help ensure the integrity of Florida elections.

"For nearly a year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide us the information necessary to identify and remove ineligible voters from Florida’s voter rolls,” said Secretary Detzner. “We can’t let the federal government delay our efforts to uphold the integrity of Florida elections any longer. We’ve filed a lawsuit to ensure the law is carried out and we are able to meet our obligation to keep the voter rolls accurate and current."

In 2011, the Florida Department of State received information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicating that non-citizens may be registered to vote in Florida.  However, while processing the new information, the State of Florida says that it became evident that the Department of State’s ability to validate a person’s legal status as up-to-date was limited. In order to validate such information, the department began seeking access to the SAVE database.

"After nearly a year of requests for access to the SAVE database, the federal government has shown no signs of meeting their legal requirement to provide access," said Detzner.  "However, federal law expressly requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to respond to state inquiries seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within its jurisdiction for any purpose authorized by law. Additionally, DHS recently stated that the SAVE database could be used for voter registration purposes in a document published September 21, 2011."

In response, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicated that it will sue the State of Florida in a letter dated June 11, 2012 to Dentzer.  "Because that State has indicated its unwillingness to comply with these requirements [federal voting laws], I have authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in Federal Court," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.

Both the Florida lawsuit and the Department of Justice letter follow below:

State of Florida v. U.S. DHS Complaint U.S. DOJ Letter To Fla. Secretary of State