Department of Justice Intervenes in Florida’s Voter-Roll PurgeJune 01, 2012
(Washington, DC) —The NAACP has released the following statement regarding the decision of the Justice Department to intervene in Florida’s illegal voter-roll purge of eligible citizens:
From Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the National NAACP:
“Florida’s recent attempt at purging eligible voters is an example of the extremist state officials’ relentless attack on voting rights,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the National NAACP. “This reproach from the Department of Justice sets the precedent for all states attempting voter purges that violate federal election law, confuse voters, and disenfranchise eligible voters.”
In 2000, Florida successfully purged almost 200,000 from the voter rolls using an erroneous felon list. The purge resulted in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, eight-eight percent of whom were black. Prior to the 2004 and 2008 elections, Florida unsuccessfully attempted to conduct mass voter purges. The state’s latest attempt purports to target non-citizens, using a flawed identification method through the Department of Motor Vehicles that does not identify naturalizations or other updates to citizen information. The first round included 2,700 voters considered suspicious. According to The Miami Herald, 58 percent of the people on the list were Hispanic and 14 percent were black. It also included longtime voters undeniably eligible to cast a ballot; including a 91-year-old decorated World War II veteran.
From Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP:
“The action of the Department of Justice to stop Florida’s illegal voter purge preserves the rights of citizens to register, remain on the rolls, and cast a ballot that gets counted on Election Day,” said Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze. “In conjunction with yesterday’s U.S. District Court ruling, the NAACP can reassure Floridians of their right to vote, continue efforts to register voters, and increase voter participation on Election Day.”
The Justice Department’s Voting Rights division issued a two-page letter to Florida’s secretary of state condemning Florida officials of their decision to comb voter rolls without following requirements under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Currently, five of Florida’s counties are subject to the Voting Rights Act. Florida’s voter purge also violates the National Voter Registration Act, prohibiting voter purges within 90 days of a primary or general election.
Last December, the NAACP released the report “Defending Democracy” which detailed the various attacks on voting rights, including Florida’s change to third party, non partisan voter registration procedures. The full report is at http://www.naacp.org/pages/defending-democracy.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.