Nelson says Florida voter purge isn't the only challenge facing minority voters

07/16/12 Janelle Irwin
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The Department of Homeland Security granted Florida access to a database that will provide information about potential non-citizens. It will likely lead to the resumption of the state’s controversial voter purge. At a press event today, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson weighed in on what he thought of efforts to remove people from the voter rolls so close to an election.

“I have no problem with anyone who is not a legal citizen from not being able to vote because that’s what we’re supposed to have. But at the same time, when it is done in a way to try to intimidate people, that’s a different matter.”

Instead, Nelson is more concerned with Florida’s new voter law often referred to as the voter suppression act. It reduces the number of early voting days and requires people to cast provisional ballots if they’ve moved and not updated their voter registration. Nelson said those stipulations more strongly affect minority and low-income voters.

“Which is suppressing the vote of minorities by constricting the amount of early voting time and the elimination of Sunday voting before the Tuesday election. Historically what has happened in Florida is that minorities, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans, utilize the Sunday in order to vote in the early voting and when you eliminate that, you’re making it more difficult for those particular subsets of voters to vote.”

The law originally imposed restrictions on third party voter registration that led groups like the League of Women Voters to stop holding registration drives. That provision has since been ruled unconstitutional. The database Florida will likely use to resume removing ineligible voters from the rolls is called SAVE - Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. It lists both legal immigrants and green-card holders who aren’t eligible to vote. Supporters of the purge say it is a more accurate way of ensuring the election is fair.

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