People For the American Way Foundation

US Reps decry Florida purge

The chorus against the Florida voter purge added sixteen new voices to the mix last week after House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI14) led a letter to Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX21) calling for:

[A]n oversight hearing on Department of Justice’s (Department’s) enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), specifically reviewing the Department’s recent decision to file suit challenging the State of Florida’s voter purging program.

Ranking Member Conyers continues:

Given the fact some states may frame voter purging programs around the question of citizenship, it is left to Congress to decide what this recent decision means for the NVRA. In the state of Florida, the process for purging and the names of potential voters to be purged has not been made public. More troubling, these programs may be over inclusive and delete newly registered citizens from voter rolls. In light of this kind of ruling, we need to review the NVRA so that over inclusive purging programs do not burden duly registered voters against the potential risk of non-citizen voters. […] If we allow threats to the democratic process to take place while on the Committee’s watch, we violate the very principles of our Constitution that allow us to serve in a representative government. Therefore, the relevant focus the Committee has historically held on traditional civil rights issues must be continued in this Congress and should not get lost amidst any distorted agenda under the guise of civil rights.

That "distorted agenda" has been presented by the Right as a fight against voter fraud, when in reality it leads to the disenfranchisement of the voters least likely to back conservative politicians. Indeed, even Judge Robert Hinkle of the US District Court of Northern Florida, who recently refused to issue an injunction against the state, conceded that the purge is "discriminatory, at least in effect".

For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.


112th Congress, citizenship, Department of Justice, DOJ, John Conyers, Lamar Smith, National Voter Registration Act, NVRA, Policy Corner, public policy, Robert Hinkle, Voter Registration, voter suppression, voting rights