Note: For the most detailed and accurate account of what federal court Judge Robert Hinkle's decision means, we urge you to read the bradblog.com, which has covered the state's voter purge in detail. Ernest Canning, a writer for the blog, contacted us after this post went live to explain that although the judge didn't demand that the state halt its voter purge, that's because the state voluntarily agreed to suspend it. We'll have more details in the 7/19 edition of Happytown, which will be available in print and online at orlandoweekly.com. We'll also post a complete PDF of the judge's ruling. Thanks to bradblog.com for clarifying the ruling, and what happened in court that day, for us. We've changed the headline of this blog post to eliminate the impression that the federal court judge actually approved of the state's effort to scrub the voter rolls.
U.S. District Court judge Robert Hinkle handed down a decision today
allowing the state of Florida to carry on that did not grant the U.S. Department of Justice its request for a temporary restraining order that would force Florida to halt its flawed and controversial voter purge. The U.S. Department of Justice had filed suit in court to stop the purge, claiming that it violated the 1965 Voting Registration Act, which prohibits states from enacting systematic voter-roll purges within 90 days of an election. Florida's primary election is scheduled for Aug. 14 – less than two months away.
Hinkle ruled that the law doesn't apply to non-citizens. And since the state's purge is supposed to be targeting non-citizens, the state could technically carry on. In its zeal to scrub those rolls, Gov. Rick Scott and co. are sweeping completely legit voters into their net of alleged illegals. The state's logic has been that a few inconvenienced voters are just collateral damage in the larger fight to rout out non-citizen voters wherever they are found.
Hinkle, it seems, is well aware of the fact that this may be happening. In his ruling, he acknowledged that determining citizenship "is not as easy as the state would have it" and pointed out that the state's purging system had "critical imperfections" that had the potential to harm legitimate voters.
Gov. Scott's office issued a press release calling Hinkle's ruling a "common-sense" decision and said it supported what his administration has been trying to do all along. However, according to the Miami Herald, the state has Florida has "voluntarily stopped pursuing a longer list of voters it has identified as potentially ineligible" until it can get better information.
So a federal judge says the purge methodology is flawed. The federal government says the purge methodology is flawed and illegal. And the state is voluntarily backing off on its aggressive pursuit of the long list of alleged non-citizen voters it has been relying on to conduct the purge, because it knows it needs better information to do this purge thing properly.
That doesn't justify putting a stop to it, at least until this whole ugly mess is straightened out once and for all?