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Federal Court: Florida Voter Purge Was Illegal

Immigrants and voting rights groups said a federal appeals court's ruling that Florida's 2012 efforts to purge non-citizens from voter rolls violated federal law was a win for many immigrant and minority voters.

“The Court’s decision is a victory not only for the thousands of voters who were wrongly targeted by Florida’s 2012 purge list; it’s a win for naturalized citizens and for democracy,” said Katherine Culliton-González, Advancement Project Director of Voter Protection.

In 2012, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced the state would take measures to remove suspected non-citizens from voter rolls. Groups such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and the union 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East-Florida joined a lawsuit by Karla Acia, a naturalized citizen from Nicaragua and Melande Antoine, a naturalized citizen from Haiti. The two women had been on a "voter purge list" and wrongly identified as non-citizens.

The initial purge flagged nearly 2,700 registered voters as non-citizens, and out of these over 80 percent were non-whites.

Jose Perez, deputy general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said “Florida’s belated 2012 voter purge seeking to remove naturalized citizens from the election rolls was clearly targeted towards Latino voters, and a blatant attempt to disenfranchise Latinos from participating in the electoral process.”

He added that the National Voter Registration Act "clearly prohibits purge activities within 90 days of a federal election because of the potential for error and voter intimidation."