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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida agrees to reign in voter purge, citizen groups dismiss (most of) lawsuit



A coalition of voter advocacy groups has agreed to drop most of it's legal challenge against the state now that the state has signed off on an agreement to end its voter purge and ensure eligible citizens will be allowed to vote.

The agreement, filed in court, is being called a "stipulation" and not a "settlement." Among the "stipulations" the state has agreed to:

-Any individuals who were kicked off the voter rolls (based on the initial list publicized in April of 2,600 names) will be restored as eligible unless the state can prove they are non-citizens based on a federal database.

-State will notify supervisors of elections of ineligible voters on this list by Oct. 15.

-All the people on the list of 2,600 who received notices that they were potentially being kicked off the voter rolls will receive new letters verifying that they remain eligible to vote.

-The Florida Department of State will re-iterate to supervisors of elections that the list of 2,600 names should not be used to determine voter eligibility.

-People who were listed on the list of 2,600 names will not be required to use provisional ballots at the polls on election day.

-The state still must fill the plaintiff's public records requests by Saturday.

In return, the plaintiffs -- two Hispanic women living in Miami-Dade County,  the Florida Immigrant Coalition, National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Florida New Majority and SEIU United, a health care workers union -- agreed to dismiss nearly all of the lawsuit filed in June. They still wants the court to rule that the state violated a federal law that precludes voter purges within 90 days of an election.

Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Department of State, tweeted the voter purge was still successful, identifying 207 ineligible voters among the list of 2,600.

"Bottom line is plaintiffs dismissed most of case," Cate also tweeted. "No settlement. We didn't agree 2 anything not already planned."

The lawsuit alleged that the voter purge unfairly targeted minority voters. Advancement Project, one of the co-plaintiff's in the lawsuit, issued a press release praising the "stipulation."

“This settlement represents a historic milestone for voting rights in Florida,” co-director Judith Browne Dianis said. “It will ensure that naturalized citizens, the majority of whom are Latino, black and Asian, have the same opportunities as all Americans to participate in our political process and exercise the most fundamental right in our democracy—the right to vote. The Secretary of State has agreed to abandon its practice of forcing naturalized citizens to prove their citizenship, and that is a victory for all us.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 6:00pm]


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