Florida Please End Governor Rick Scotts Voter Purge
An unprecedented attack on the right to vote is happening in Florida — a state George Bush “won” by just 573 votes in 2000.1
Florida Governor Rick Scott is trying to purge state voter rolls just before a key election2. Scott’s purge will give 180,000 Floridians — 87% of whom are people of color — 30 days to prove their citizenship.3 Any person who does not provide proof will be dropped from the rolls and deemed ineligible to vote. If this reckless plan succeeds, thousands of eligible voters could be disenfranchised.4It could sway upcoming primary elections, and the presidential election.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Dentzler demanding a halt to the purge.5Governor Scott just responded with blatant disregard for the order and explained Florida’s plan to continue the purge.
The DOJ has already taken the first step to stop this purge, now they need to hear that we’re behind them. Florida’s county election officials, Governor, and Secretary of State need to know that we will use our collective power to fight and protect our voting rights, and our democracy.
Please join us in demanding that Florida officials stop this purge, and asking the DOJ to investigate Governor Scott and Secretary Dentzler for violating the law. It only takes a moment:
In April, Governor Scott began the purge by sending lists of over 2,600 suspected non-citizen voters to county election officials across the state. After reviewing the lists and Scott’s method of compiling non-citizen names, several officials (mostly Republican) have refused to comply with the state sanctioned voter purge, citing the lists as unreliable and suspect.6
This unlawful move is painfully reminiscent of the voter purges in 2000 ordered by former governor Jeb Bush — where thousands of mostly Black and Latino voters were disenfranchised prior to a presidential election. That year, despite much controversy, George Bush’s victory was decided by a mere 573 votes.7
Based on current ratios of Floridians falsely flagged as non-citizens, there may be more than 35,000 eligible voters disenfranchised by this proposed voter purge in a state where elections have been decided by far fewer votes.8
This is not the first time Florida has come under federal scrutiny for tampering with the voting process. Just last year, the U.S. Department of Justice challenged three changes to the state’s election law as discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.9 Florida’s legislature is seeking to cut the early voting period in half, place prohibitive regulations on voter registration drives and increase the use of provisional ballots. These changes effectively disrupt the voting process at several stages, suppress the vote by shrinking the electorate, and disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters.
For years, Republicans have used every trick in the book to gain a political advantage and steal elections by preventing certain kinds of people — Black people, Latinos, students, the elderly, and the poor — from voting. Right-wing groups and public officials use a range of tactics to advance this agenda: passing discriminatory voter ID laws, manipulating the distribution of voting machines, restricting voter registration,10 and attacking groups that register large numbers of voters. As a way of justifying many of these policies, they have spread the myth that “voter fraud” (individuals voting illegally) is a widespread problem, when in fact it occurs almost never.11 Voter purges like the one we’re seeing in Florida are a very powerful form of voter suppression.
Governor Scott is waging a full assault on an essential component of any democracy — the right to vote. If the DOJ doesn’t take further action to stop Governor Rick Scott’s voter purge, thousands of citizens could become ineligible to vote. Please join us, and our partners at Florida New Majority, in this effort to end state sanctioned voter suppression. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
– Rashad, Gabriel, Dani, Matt, Natasha, Kim, Aimée, Charlene, Arisha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
June 9th, 2012
1. “Florida weighs warning against voter purge,” Reuters, 6-2-12
2. “Florida Continuing to Protecting Citizen Voting Rights, Miami Herald,” 6-6-12
3. “Florida voter-suppression campaign means WWII vet has to prove he is American or lose his vote,” BoingBoing, 6-1-12
4. “Florida Gov. Scott appears ready to fight DOJ on voter rolls purge,” Miami Herald, 6-6-12
5. “TPM Docs- DOJ Demands Florida Stop Voter Purge, ThinkProgress,” downloaded 6-6-12
6. “Florida Election Officials Refuse to Use Rick Scotts Inaccurate List to Purge Voters,” ThinkProgress, 6-1-12
7. See reference 1
8. “Florida voter purge to intensify,” The Rachel Maddow Blog, MSNBC.com, 5-31-12
9. “Shameless: Florida’s Tea Party Governor Trying to Strip Voting Rights from Thousands,” AlterNet, 5-31-12
10.”Voter registration groups sue over new Florida election law,” Tampa Bay Times, 12-16-12
11.“The Myth of Voter Fraud,” Washington Post, 3-29-07