The Florida Department of State has responded to the Justice Department???s demand that they terminate efforts to clean ineligible voters, particularly illegal aliens, from their voter registrations. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued a statement saying the program would continue:
“As Florida???s Chief Election Officer, I am committed to ensuring the accuracy of Florida???s voter rolls and the integrity of our elections. It is my duty to protect the right of all eligible voters who are able to participate in the process. This is the security that voters and candidates expect from us in every election. The Department will continue to act in a responsible and cautious manner when presented with credible information about potentially ineligible voters. No one that has the right to vote has been denied the opportunity to cast a vote, and as the Secretary, it is my duty to ensure that remains the case.
???As to the specific concerns presented by the Department of Justice, we will be responding next week.”
The Justice Department???s action has been widely misreported as an ???order??? which Florida is now ???defying,??? but in fact it was a letter of warning, not a legal injunction. Florida Secretary of State Detzner wrote a letter of his own in response to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department on Wednesday??? and he did not mince words, accusing DOJ of being the lawbreakers in this affair. Detzner begins his response by saying his department ???respectfully disagrees with DOJ???s position,??? but his letter is noticeably less ???respectful??? by the time it reaches Page Four.
???No person has been or will be removed from the voter rolls without the fundamentals of due process,??? Detzner asserts, citing the relevant Florida statutes in detail. Biased journalists and assorted hysterics have portrayed Florida???s ???purge??? as some brutal, abrupt process in which helpless minority voters are ruthlessly disenfranchised, but in fact the 2,600 suspicious voters uncovered by Florida???s database search are notified via certified mail with return receipt requested. They are given 30 days to respond with proof of eligibility, and can request a hearing if desired.
If this notice proves undeliverable (and remember, it???s certified mail sent to the address listed for a registered voter!) the Department of State publishes a notice ???in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the voter was last registered, with an additional 30-day opportunity for the registered voter to resolve the matter.??? After all this, if one of those challenged voters feels they were unfairly declared ineligible, they can appeal to state circuit courts, and Florida law provides a clear procedure for restoring their voter registration.
Detzner dismisses the Justice Department???s concerns by noting that ???the State of Florida is not a covered jurisdiction subject to the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.??? The five Florida counties that are covered are ???simply administering a law that the Department of Justice has duly precleared.???
Furthermore, Detzner asserts ???Florida???s actions are also consistent with the National Voter Registration Act,??? and notes that the Holder Justice Department???s reading of that Act ???would grant greater protection against removal from the voter rolls to non-citizens ??? who were never eligible to vote ??? than to other categories of registered voters (such as deceased persons, convicted felons, and the mentally incompetent) who may have lawfully been on the rolls at one time, but have later become ineligible.???
This, in Detzner???s view, would be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, ???which guarantees that the right to vote cannot be denied by a dilution of the weight of a citizen???s vote.??? That???s an important point deliberately overlooked by those who denounce every attempt to clean up our ridiculously antiquated and inaccurate electoral system.
That???s about where the ???respectful??? part of Detzner???s letter ends. He???s still polite and professional, but his next point is sharpened like the tip of a rapier.
Florida has been criticized for conducting its voter verification program within 90 days of an election ??? there???s one coming up on August 14. Even if the National Voter Registration Act is read to absolutely prohibit any attempt to clean out illegal voters within the ninety-day window, the only reason Florida is doing this so close to the election is that the Obama Administration, specifically the Department of Homeland Security, has ???repeatedly ignored or rebuffed Florida???s efforts to gain access to the SAVE database ??? access that was necessary for successful and accurate completion of Florida???s efforts to ensure the integrity of its voter registration rolls.??? Detzner attached nine month???s worth of emails to back up this assertion.
This is more than a mere annoyance. Detzner believes it is a violation of federal law, since DHS is explicitly required to respond to state requests for access to this database for the purpose of verifying voter registration and checking immigration status.
???In sum,??? Detzner concludes, ???the practice DOJ now appears to be endorsing is as follows: the federal Department of Homeland Security may, for months, violate federal law and deny Florida and other states access to the SAVE database so that the federal Department of Justice may then assert that the resulting delays in a state???s election-integrity efforts violate the time periods established in another federal law.???
???This hardly seems like an approach earnestly designed to protect the integrity of elections and to ensure that eligible voters have their votes counted,??? the Florida Secretary of State puckishly observes. He then turns the tables on Justice and asks what steps they believe Florida could take to ???identify and remove non-citizens from its voter registration rolls between today???s date and the date of the November 6 general election.??? He wonders if DOJ would object to efforts aimed at merely identifying fraudulent voters, even if no action were taken until after the election.
Detzner expects answers to his questions no later than June 11. Meanwhile, the New York Times offers an update on how the Florida voter integrity procedure has been going:
So far, 13 people in Miami-Dade County, which has the most potential noncitizens on the list, have acknowledged not being citizens. Two of them have voted. More than 1,000 have not responded to the letter, and 500 are citizens.
What???s that, you say? Thirteen people have actually admitted to being fraudulent voters, and two of them have actually cast votes in the past, just in Miami-Dade County? A thousand people haven???t responded to the certified letters at all? Wow. It???s not exactly a pointless witch hunt, is it?
How about the number of innocent voters brutally disenfranchised by those Department of State stormtroopers? That would be zero. ???We are aware of no U.S. citizens who have been removed from the voter rolls as a result of the state???s efforts to identify non-citizens,??? says the department???s fact sheet.
The high-profile case of ???outrage??? being dragged around to media appearances by vote fraud apologists, World War II veteran Bill Internicola, was never knocked off the rolls. He received one of those certified letters because he lied about his date of birth on his drivers??? license. He was easily able to demonstrate his eligibility to vote by showing his Army discharge papers. He was mildly inconvenienced, not ???disenfranchised.???
And how big is the problem with illegal voters in Florida? Nobody knows. Access to the federal database is necessary to diagnose the problem??? and all efforts at diagnosis are denounced as racism or scurrilous efforts to ???intimidate??? Democrat voters.
It???s long past time someone stood up to the defenders of voter fraud, and took steps to drag our electoral system out of the 1960s. At the very least, we should be able to discuss the situation rationally. Let us see if the Justice Department offers some rational answers to the questions asked by Florida???s Secretary of State.