WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida and the Florida Secretary of State in his official capacity alleging that the state has violated its obligations under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
The complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, alleges that Florida has violated the NVRA by conducting a systematic program to purge voters from its voter registration rolls within the 90-day quiet period before an election for federal office established by the law. In addition, the complaint alleges that Florida’s use of inaccurate and unreliable voter verification procedures violates the requirement in Section 8 of the NVRA that any such program be uniform and nondiscriminatory.
“The Department of Justice has an overriding interest in protecting the rights of eligible citizens to register and vote free from unlawful burdens, while at the same time ensuring that ineligible persons do not register and vote in federal elections in violation of the law,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department is committed to enforcing the National Voter Registration Act so that these objectives are met.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring that the defendants have failed to comply with the requirements of Section 8 of the NVRA, and enjoining Florida from taking any further steps in connection with this list purge program.
“Congress enacted the NVRA against a historical backdrop in this country in which purge programs initiated close to elections prevented and deterred eligible citizens from casting ballots,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “The 90-day quiet period in the NVRA protects eligible voters from being dropped from the rolls right before an election. It appears that Florida has undertaken a new program for voter removal within this 90-day period that has critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.”