While the hotly contested race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney unfolds ahead of their November showdown, all across the country laws are being implemented to prevent voter fraud – although instances of such deceit have been largely negligent. With some groups claiming that discrimination is at the core of the blockades to basic voting rights, a court settlement in Florida may be the start of tides turning into a positive spin for voters who nearly had their voices silenced.
In the case of Arcia v. Detzner, a voter purge introduced by Republican Governor Rick Scottsparked a series of debates across the state. Early on, Gov. Scott became interested in the number of early voters who were non-citizens during his time in office. After being denied by the Department of Homeland Security to use their alien verification database, Scott and the state of Florida used flawed data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to find out who had citizenship.Former Secretary of State Kurt Browning shut the operation down until a local NBC news station did a report on non-citizens who regularly vote; persons are usually given citizenship after obtaining a license in most cases. The report inspired current State Secretary Ken Detzner to send out a list of 2,700 potential non-citizens to county election officials in May. The officials were ordered to contact the individuals and inform them that they had 30 days to prove citizenship or be purged from being able to vote.
According to reports, 87 percent of persons on the list were minorities.
The Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, along with other groups sued the state for discrimination against Black and Hispanic voters.
On Wednesday, the state of Florida agreed to a series of measures in a settlement that will keep specific citizens’ voices counted.
Although the groups have to drop their discrimination claims, the settlement ensures that the non-citizen names will have their entries removed from the purge list. Additionally, all registered voters who received letters this spring warning them that they weren’t registered will get notices proving otherwise. Finally, all those who were listed on a potential list of non-citizens should not be seen as voter ineligibility.
This is a solid victory for civil and voting rights for the state of Florida.