As the election season heats up, an increasing number of states are working to limit the number of people who are allowed to vote. Already we have a shamefully low percentage of those eligible to vote actually participating. Florida, a key swing state, is preparing for the Republican National Convention, five days of pomp promoted as a celebration of democracy. While throwing this party, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, along with his secretary of state, Ken Detzner, are systematically throwing people off the voter rolls, based on flawed, outdated Florida state databases.
Many eligible Florida voters recently received a letter saying they were removed and had limited time to prove their citizenship. Hundreds of cases emerged where people with long-standing U.S. citizenship were being purged. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, “of those singled out to prove their citizenship, 61 percent are Hispanic when only 14 percent of registered Florida voters are Hispanic,” suggesting an attempt to purge Latinos, who tend to vote Democratic. Recall the year 2000, when then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris systematically purged African-Americans from voter rolls. The U.S. Justice Department has ordered Detzner to stop the purge, but he and Gov. Scott promise to continue. The Justice Department has sued the state in federal court, as have the ACLU and other groups.
For Georgia Congressman John Lewis, efforts to limit access to vote are not just bureaucratic. “It is unreal, it is unbelievable, that at this time in our history, 40 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed and passed into law, that we’re trying to go backward. I think there is a systematic, deliberate attack on the part of so many of these states, not just Florida, but it’s all across the country. ... Some people were beaten, shot and murdered trying to help people become registered voters. I can never forget the three civil-rights workers that were murdered in the state of Mississippi on the night of June 21, 1964,” he said, recalling the murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, killed while registering African-Americans to vote.
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