State News
2:29 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Lawmaker Blasts Renewed 'Voter Purge' As 'Witch Hunt' Targeting Minorities

Sen. Joyner
Credit Florida Senate

A Democratic state lawmaker is blasting Gov. Rick Scott for a renewed effort to remove non-citizens from state voter rolls. Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) says the so-called “voter purge” disproportionately targets Democratic-leaning minority voters.

Joyner, the outgoing Chair of Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus, says she’s disappointed recent court developments allow the state to continue its voter purge. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out part of the Voting Rights Act requiring some Florida counties to get federal approval before changing voting laws. That ruling led to the dismissal of a lawsuit trying to block the voter purge on the grounds the state disproportionately targeted minority voters. After the suit was thrown out, the state immediately announced the voter purge would continue. Joyner says that amounts to voter suppression.

“I just think it’s a witch hunt motivated by the governor’s poll numbers, which moved up some, but they still are not that high. And it’s targeting folks who vote Democratic," she says.

Joyner says more than 60 percent of the names on the state’s original list of suspected non-citizens belonged to Hispanics.

Before the 2012 election, Florida officials combed a driver’s license database to find ineligible voters. This time around they have access to a federal Homeland Security database. State officials say that should cut down on the number of eligible voters misidentified as non-citizens.