Florida Voter Purge is Discriminatory, Lawsuit Says

Groups opposed to the governor’s effort to push non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls plan to take their fight to court – outside the court, that is, where they will stage a protest.

Organizations that work with immigrants and Puerto Ricans filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a Miami federal court.

The lawsuit contends the push by Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, to remove voters violates federal law because it's within 90 days of an election.

The groups also contend the effort is discriminatory because Latinos represent a majority of names on the list created by state election officials.

Last year, Florida compared driver's license records with voter registration records and turned up about 182,000 registered voters who may not be U.S. citizens. State officials didn't release that list and instead sought access to a federal immigration database to verify the matches.

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said he supports the voter purge effort.

"How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?" Rubio reportedly said at a Bloomberg event.

Meanwhile, a poll released Wednesday shows that three out of five Florida voters say they favor the effort to purge ineligible voters the state's rolls.

The survey of 1,697 Florida voters by Quinnipiac (Conn.) University showed 60 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed to the governor's attempts. Five percent didn't have an opinion. The margin of error in a snapshot of voters' views taken between June 12 and June 18 was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

"Gov. Scott may be a lot less popular in Florida these days than President Barack Obama, but on the face-off between the two on the purge issue, Floridians seem to be solidly in Scott's corner," pollster Peter Brown said Wednesday. "Whether this voter purge becomes a big deal issue in the campaign or not is not clear at this point."

A similar majority, 56 percent, also supported the state's "stand your ground" law that allows citizens to defend themselves with deadly force if they feel threatened. Thirty-seven percent said they oppose the law.

There was a significant partisan and racial division on both issues.

Republicans back the effort to search out possible illegal voters by 90 percent to 8 percent while Democrats are opposed by a 60 percent to 33 percent. Independents also support the governor on the issue by 59 percent to 37 percent. White voters (67 percent to 29 percent) and Hispanics (49 percent to 42 percent) supported the purging effort compared to black voters, who opposed it by 56 percent to 38 percent.

Republicans also were strongly behind the "stand your ground" law, 81 percent to 12 percent. Democrats were opposed by a 2-to-1 margin and independents favored the measure by 55 percent to 39 percent.

Scott's popularity, however, still lags with 39 percent of the respondents who said they approved of his performance as governor compared to 49 percent to disapprove.

"They don't like his policies and they are mixed on whether they like him as a person," Brown said. "Women especially disapprove and dislike their governor."

But Scott fares better than the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. Fewer than a third of respondents thought Florida lawmakers were doing a good job while exactly his approved of their performance.

Rubio and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson were each seen favorably by voters.

Nelson, who is seeking a third term this fall, was rated favorably by 47 percent while 32 percent disapproved. Rubio was ranked favorably by 51 percent compared to 31 percent unfavorable.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

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