June 18, 2012
By Hans A. von Spakovsky
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner should be commended for standing up to bullying from U.S. Justice Department and working to ensure the integrity of the state’s voter registration list. Election officials have an absolute duty and obligation to remove noncitizens from voter rolls.
The Justice Department’s claim that this violates the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) is legally wrong and yet another example of politically-driven law enforcement that has become a sad hallmark of this administration. The Department of Justice appears to be trying to abet vote thieves in what will be a key battleground state in this November’s elections.
In comparing voter registration and DMV records, Florida is simply following federal law. The Help America Vote Act specifically directs states to coordinate their voter registrations records “with other agency databases within the state” to ensure they are accurate.
DOJ’s claim that Florida is violating the VRA is baseless. The state law that allows the removal of registrants because they are not a United States citizen was previously approved by the Justice Department.
DOJ’s claim that Florida is violating the NVRA because the removal is occurring within 90 days of the August 14 Florida primary is also spurious. The 90-day rule doesn’t apply to the removal of noncitizens. They were never eligible to be registered to begin with. Indeed, they committed a federal felony when they illegally registered to vote. According to DOJ’s own prosecution manual, the submission of false citizenship information to register to vote violates the NVRA, as well as two other federal statutes.
The suggestion that Florida is violating one section of the NVRA if it removes noncitizens who committed a felony when they violated another section of the NVRA by illegally registering is ridiculous. And Florida was put in this position because the administration — contrary to federal law — has refused Florida’s request to check the Department of Homeland Security records on noncitizens.
Under the Justice Department’s reading of the NVRA, Florida couldn’t remove Mickey Mouse if it found the Walt Disney character illegally registered at the Magic Kingdom. That the Justice Department would make such a strained claim is a sign of just how desperate Eric Holder is to stop Florida’s much-needed clean up of its voter registration list prior to the November election.
Hans von Spakovsky is senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
This article first appeared on MiamiHerald.com.
Hans A. von Spakovsky
Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow
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