Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

Florida likely to resume voter purge after Supreme Court decision

TALLAHASSEE — When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act two weeks ago, it cleared the way for Gov. Rick Scott's administration to resume its controversial effort to remove potential noncitizens from voter rolls.

The high court on June 25 invalidated a formula used for decades by federal officials to approve changes to voting laws in states and counties to protect minorities from discrimination, a review known as preclearance. The federal scrutiny no longer applies to Hillsborough and four other Florida counties: Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry.

A Hispanic advocacy group, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, sued last year on behalf of two Tampa voters, calling the state's list of suspected non-U.S. citizen voters unreliable with a potential to disenfranchise voters, especially Hispanics and African-Americans such as Murat Limage, 45, of Tampa. He received a letter from the county elections office that questioned his citizenship, even though he was a naturalized U.S. citizen, the suit alleges.

Some county election supervisors also questioned the accuracy of the state data. Removal efforts stalled a few weeks before the 2012 general election.

The thrust of the lawsuit was that the state began removing voters without first obtaining federal preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but that argument became pointless after the Supreme Court's decision.

Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, filed a notice in U.S. District Court in Tampa on Wednesday formally asking a judge to dismiss the suit, which both sides say is inevitable, so the purge can resume.

"Florida's five counties are no longer subject to preclearance," said Detzner's spokesman, Mark Ard. "We fully intend to continue our efforts to remove noncitizens from Florida's voter rolls and anticipate doing so with plenty of time to prepare for the next general election."

Howard Simon of the ACLU of Florida, which sided with the plaintiffs, says the Supreme Court decision wiped out a layer of legal protection for minority voters.

"Our job has gotten harder, and it means the burden of defending the right to vote will fall more heavily on voting rights organizations," Simon said. "The main tool in the toolbox, Section 5, has been removed."

The Tampa case is only the latest of several examples of how the court ruling has immediately affected voting rights issues in several Southern states.

North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas are considering new voting laws, such as requiring photo IDs at the polls and cutting back on early voting days, the New York Times has reported.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18
Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

Romano: Hey Gov. Scott, could you hire me, too?

To: The Honorable Gov. Rick ScottDear Governor,It has come to my attention that your administration has recently made some, dare I say, innovative hires for important government positions in the months before you leave office.At the risk of sounding ...
Published: 05/14/18
‘Not a racially motivated issue’: N.C. mayor defends violent arrest of black man at Waffle House

‘Not a racially motivated issue’: N.C. mayor defends violent arrest of black man at Waffle House

The mayor of the North Carolina town where a 22-year-old black man’s violent arrest in a Waffle House has drawn wide scrutiny and prompted an internal investigation defended the police in a video he posted Friday."This is not a racially motivated iss...
Published: 05/12/18
Pruitt’s dinner with cardinal accused of abuse was kept off public schedule

Pruitt’s dinner with cardinal accused of abuse was kept off public schedule

WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined last year in Rome with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist and Vatican leader who was also facing sexual abuse allegations. The EPA lat...
Published: 05/11/18