Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida likely to resume voter purge after Supreme Court decision

TALLAHASSEE — When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act two weeks ago, it cleared the way for Gov. Rick Scott's administration to resume its controversial effort to remove potential noncitizens from voter rolls.

The high court on June 25 invalidated a formula used for decades by federal officials to approve changes to voting laws in states and counties to protect minorities from discrimination, a review known as preclearance. The federal scrutiny no longer applies to Hillsborough and four other Florida counties: Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry.

A Hispanic advocacy group, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, sued last year on behalf of two Tampa voters, calling the state's list of suspected non-U.S. citizen voters unreliable with a potential to disenfranchise voters, especially Hispanics and African-Americans such as Murat Limage, 45, of Tampa. He received a letter from the county elections office that questioned his citizenship, even though he was a naturalized U.S. citizen, the suit alleges.

Some county election supervisors also questioned the accuracy of the state data. Removal efforts stalled a few weeks before the 2012 general election.

The thrust of the lawsuit was that the state began removing voters without first obtaining federal preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but that argument became pointless after the Supreme Court's decision.

Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, filed a notice in U.S. District Court in Tampa on Wednesday formally asking a judge to dismiss the suit, which both sides say is inevitable, so the purge can resume.

"Florida's five counties are no longer subject to preclearance," said Detzner's spokesman, Mark Ard. "We fully intend to continue our efforts to remove noncitizens from Florida's voter rolls and anticipate doing so with plenty of time to prepare for the next general election."

Howard Simon of the ACLU of Florida, which sided with the plaintiffs, says the Supreme Court decision wiped out a layer of legal protection for minority voters.

"Our job has gotten harder, and it means the burden of defending the right to vote will fall more heavily on voting rights organizations," Simon said. "The main tool in the toolbox, Section 5, has been removed."

The Tampa case is only the latest of several examples of how the court ruling has immediately affected voting rights issues in several Southern states.

North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas are considering new voting laws, such as requiring photo IDs at the polls and cutting back on early voting days, the New York Times has reported.

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Florida likely to resume voter purge after Supreme Court decision 07/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

    Sports

    DENVER — The Lightning left for Las Vegas Saturday for the first of four nights in Sin City.

  2. Special counsel now has thousands of Trump transition emails

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump's campaign has gained access to thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration, the Associated Press reported, speaking to several people familiar with …

  3. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Monday's game vs. Falcons

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn't challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.

  4. In society and in law, definition of consent is a gray area

    Nation

    For two months now, as accusations of sexual misconduct have piled up against Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced mogul has responded over and over again: "Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied."

  5. No. 22 Gators, No. 19 Seminoles fall in Orange Bowl Classic games

    Colleges

    SUNRISE — Marcquise Reed threw a 75-foot pass to Elijah Thomas for a dunk that put Clemson ahead to stay with 37 seconds left, and the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half Saturday to beat No. 22 Florida 71-69 in the Orange Bowl Classic.