Friday, June 1, 2012

Florida Election Laws Get Federal Attention

This is good:

A federal judge has issued an injunction barring enforcement of part of Florida’s controversial new election law, ruling that a 48-hour deadline for third party groups to turn in voter registration forms is “harsh and impractical.”

Tallahassee federal Judge Robert Hinkle left intact much of the rest of the law, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year. Portions of that law are also being challenged in federal court in Washington.

The new law and associated rule “impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional” even if they do not violate the National Voting Rights Act, Hinkle wrote in a 27-page ruling issued today.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is looking into the voter purge going on in the state.

The Department of Justice is intervening in Florida’s voter-roll purge, demanding that the Sunshine State stop immediately because it may be in violation of federal law.

Gov. Rick Scott has come up with a list of 180,000 voters who his administration suspects are ineligible to cast ballots in the battleground state. The problem? Florida has cast such a wide net that it seems to have snared many legitimate voters.

According to the DOJ letter sent to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Thursday, the process has not been green lighted under the Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities.

In it, the Justice Department also argues that the purge violated the National Voter Registration Act, which says voter roll maintenance must stop 90 days before an election. Because the Sunshine State has a primary on Aug. 16, their cutoff was May 16.

Cue the chorus of right-wing whining about how it’s time to repeal the Voting Rights Act.