More than a few Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief this afternoon after Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that he is dropping plans for a new voter purge this year.
And it's not just Democrats who are pleased. Anyone who believes that the state should make it easier to participate in the democratic process — rather than more difficult — also cheered the announcement.
"Florida voters should be delighted by this news," said Deirdre Macnab, President of the Florida League of Voters in a statement. "Independently elected Supervisors of Elections are already standing sentry on making sure that only eligible citizens are voting. Programs like "Project Integrity" have proven time and time again to disproportionally impact minority voters and erroneously disenfranchise those that are eligible."
Detzner announced that he was delaying plans to attempt a review of the state's voting lists before this year’s election because of technical issues involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAVE list — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.
Detzner has been defending another review for months now, since he's been questioned by several of the state's supervisor of elections — many among them Republicans — about its necessity.
During a hearing before the state Senate's Committee on Ethics and Elections in November, he said using SAVE to check voter registration is one of its primary uses.
"In fact, Homeland Security’s ‘benefit categories’ lists checking voter registration citizenship status as one of its main functions. The federal government allows SAVE to be used to check legal status as part of ensuring the eligibility of registered voters."
Detzner said SAVE is used nationwide to verify citizenship for entitlement programs (such as Medicaid), so he argued that the state should be confident that it will provide credible information for elections officials.
later called such comments "false," writing "A federal document lists voter registration as one of the benefits that SAVE data can be used for to check citizenship status. However, we found no documentation to support Detzner’s claim that voter registration is one of its "main functions."
"As we’ve stated since our initial lawsuit challenging the voter purge, there was never any evidence that there was a problem that the purge would fix, but that the purge was simply another voter suppression tool justified by the ginned-up phantom of ‘voter fraud,’" said Howard Simon with the Florida ACLU today.
Simon added, "Today’s announcement confirms that the purge itself was the real threat to election integrity all along."