Florida Prepares to Defy Justice Department, Continue Voter Purge

Florida Governor Rick Scott sent the strongest signal yet that he plans to defy the Department of Justice and continue purging registered voters the rolls. Last week, the Justice Department sent Scott a letter demanding an end the voter purge because it was in violation of federal law. His deadline for responding to the letter is today.

Although Florida has not formally responded to the Justice Department letter, a Scott administration spokesman strongly indicated to the Miami Herald that Governor Scott had no intention of ending the purge:

“Our letter will address the issues raised by DOJ while emphasizing the importance of having accurate voter rolls,” said Chris Cate, spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who’s in charge of the state’s elections division.

Cate would neither confirm nor deny what was in the state’s response, but he acknowledged that the state disagrees with the federal government and doesn’t plan to throw in the towel. “We know we’ve been acting responsibly,” he said…

“DOJ is making the same argument as the groups that have sent letters to us,” Cate said. “If we disagree with the interpretation — it doesn’t matter who’s raising it — we disagree with the interpretation”…

“We’ve been acting responsibly through this process,” Cate said. “And our letter will reiterate that while addressing the concerns raised by DOJ. We have continued our efforts to identify ineligible voters.”

It’s unclear what the practical impact of Governor Scott’s decision will be, however. All 67 county election supervisors, in light of the Department of Justice letter, have suspended executing the purge. Some have even reinstated voters purged previously. The local election supervisors, not the state, has the ultimate authority to remove names.

As ThinkProgress has documented, hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens — including two 91-year-old WWII veterans — have been wrongly targeted by the purge.