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Feds grant Florida right to access citizens list to purge ineligible voters

Florida Governor Rick Scott greets people during a bill signing ceremony for House Bill 99, the Florida Safe Harbor Act and House Bill 7049, Human Trafficking, at the Kristi House in Miami. on June 12, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  The Governor is in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over the state's effort to remove non-U.S. citizens from lists of registered voters ahead of this year's presidential election.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Feds grant Florida right to access citizens list to purge ineligible voters

Republicans scored a political victory this weekend in their ongoing fight over voter eligibility and election fraud.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott’s administration successfully sued the Homeland Security Department to access the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. This is a document which keeps track of foreigners with visas, green cards or other permits who live in the United States legally, but do not have the actual right to vote. Florida election officials plan on using this information to crosscheck voter rolls and purge ineligible names.

Republicans claim this is an effort to ensure that elections are fair and accurate, while Democrats stress that document voting fraud is rare and that this is a cynical effort to suppress voting among minority groups and those individuals in lower socio-economic strata. Still, this federal concession is not as worrisome to Democrats as the GOP’s call for photo identification to be necessary at the polls, due to the fact that many minorities simply don’t have it.

It should be noted that the new policy in Florida will not necessarily catch illegal immigrants who wound up on voter lists, because they do not have the same permits which are used to keep track of the names in the SAVE database.

So are these Republican efforts a form of disenfranchisement or a means of protecting the validity of elections? Is there a better way of going about making sure only those who can vote are allowed at the polls? With similar movements happening in pivotal election states all over the country, should California start looking at such a policy as well? Why or why not?


Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation

Rick Hasen, Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science at
University of California Irvine School of Law and author of The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Yale University Press, August 2012)

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