On Monday, Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, told Fox News that he would sue the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to give Florida access to its SAVE database. Florida wanted this access to assist with its sweep of voter registrations – a process that would have been completed far more quickly, if DHS had fulfilled its legal obligation to make the SAVE data available.
“We want to have fair, honest elections in our state,” Scott maintained, “and we have been put in a position that we have to sue the federal government to get this information.”
The suit was duly filed in D.C. district court by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Monday afternoon. Now the Justice Department has returned fire, suing Florida for violating the National Voter Registration act, specifically the provision that says voter rolls cannot be purged within 90 days of an election.
Also, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Civil Rights Division alleges that Florida’s procedure has “critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.” He described the data used to generate the list of challenged voters as “outdated and inaccurate.”
That charge is certain to enrage Florida officials, since they’re suing another arm of the Administration for denying them access to the very data that would have made their program faster and more accurate. In fact, Detzner specifically stated in a recent letter to the Justice Department that Florida only barged into the 90-day “quiet period” before the next election because Homeland Security refused to let them use the SAVE database, causing their procedure to take far longer than originally anticipated. Detzner included nine month’s worth of email correspondence between his office and DHS to emphasize the point.
Florida always knew the SAVE database maintained by Homeland Security was more up-to-date than the information they were using. That is, as state authorities explicitly stated, the reason they wanted to invoke their legally guaranteed right to access the federal database. In a modern era of light-speed information sharing, Florida would have gotten a faster response by sending a horse-drawn carriage to Washington, printing out the federal database on paper, and dragging it back to Tallahassee.
For the benefit of anyone confused by the shoddy reporting on this case, the state of Florida has “disenfranchised” precisely zero legitimate voters. Not one single case of a voter unfairly removed from the rolls has yet been introduced. A list of 182,000 suspect voters, flagged because their voter registration data disagreed with Department of Motor Vehicles information in certain ways, was winnowed down to 2,600 names. These people were sent certified letters, with return receipt, by the Florida Department of State, asking them to provide documentation to prove their eligibility. Those who don’t respond at all would be given another 90 days, after the government ran advertisements in their local newspaper, asking them to get in touch with the Florida Department of State immediately.
The effort was suspended at the end of May when controversy heated up. “So far, Florida has identified 85 voters who were registered illegally, [Governor Rick] Scott said,” according to a New York Times report on Tuesday. Voting without legal citizenship is said to be a third-degree felony, which could carry up to $5000 in fines and five years in prison.
That’s funny – in a bleak, Orwellian way – because apparently even the most reasonable attempt to detect this crime is a far worse offense. Supposedly the effort to validate even a tiny fraction of Florida’s millions of voters is “intimidating.” Isn’t the enforcement of every law somewhat intimidating? No one in the Administration seems terribly worried about the intimidation factor of unleashing thousands of new IRS agents upon American citizens to enforce ObamaCare.
Sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the Obama Administration suing Florida because they didn’t use data the Obama Administration broke the law by refusing to provide them!