Update: This post has been updated because Florida now tells Reuters that they are still considering their response. Reuters had to update their story also.
Despite a Justice Department letter, objections from county elections officials and evidence that a disproportionate number are voters of color, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office planned to continue scrubbing the election rolls, a spokesman said Friday. Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered the search for potentially ineligible voters.
“We have an obligation to make sure the voter rolls are accurate and we are going to continue forward and do everything that we can legally do to make sure than ineligible voters cannot vote,” said Chris Cate, a spokesman for Detzner. “We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot. We are not going to give up our efforts to make sure the voter rolls are accurate.”
Justice Department officials declined to comment on Florida’s plans.
Will Florida stand fast, or cave in? Florida has a winning case here. Firstly, the statutes allowing the purge have already been precleared. DOJ will have to climb onto the far limbs of Presley vs. Etowah County in claiming the way Florida conducted the foreign voter purge must be submitted to DOJ for approval. Second, if Section 5 allows the Attorney General to stop states from ensuring that citizens of foreign countries don’t vote for President, I doubt Holder will find much support on the Supreme Court.
Third, if Florida stands fast, expect wide popular support against an unpopular Attorney General, but only if Floridians call their Secretary of State and support him. Also expect citizens groups to intervene on behalf of Florida and election integrity.
Holder faces another danger. The more he appears to assert unconstitutional federal power, the more states will push back against his overreach – including increasing defiance. The Voting Section only has so many lawyers. At some point, it can pick only so many fights. Worse yet, if you are a supporter of Section 5 as a protection against genuine racial discrimination, the stupid fights Holder is picking to placate his radical lawless base may unravel the statute. Even supporters of Section 5 should urge Holder to stand down and let Florida clean up their voter rolls of dead people and foreigners.
UPDATE: Reuters amended their story to now say that Florida is “still considering” a response.