Gov. Rick Scott defended the states efforts to remove noncitizens from the list of Floridas registered voters with a deadlined response looming for the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.
There is no perfect time to do any of these things, we just want fair elections, Scott said following a business round table in the rural Panhandle community of Quincy.
This is not a partisan issue; Republicans want fair elections, Democrats, independents, we all do.
Last Thursday, Christian Herren, the DOJs chief civil rights lawyer, gave Secretary of State Ken Detzner until June 6 to halt the voter roll review that has drawn sharp opposition from Democrats and minority groups.
While Detzner released a statement Friday declaring his commitment to the accuracy and integrity of the elections, secretary of state spokesman Chris Cates responded in an email Monday that the agency would respond to the DOJ this week.
Herren claims the effort may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- requiring federal preclearance before undertaking any changes in Monroe, Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties, which have past experience with minority-voting problems -- and that because of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, time has run out for the review before the 2012 elections.
The voting registration act requires such reviews to be conducted more than 90 days prior to an election, in Herrens opinion. With the primary set for Aug. 14, the voter registration reviews should have ended May 16.
In his letter, Herren didnt mention that the Department of Homeland Security has delayed or stonewalled, since at least last September, requests from Florida to obtain updated citizenship information.
Florida has been requesting the information to comply with the federal Motor Voter law, which requires states to remove ineligible voters from the list of registered voters.
My focus is making sure that our state has fair elections, people that have a right to vote, because I dont want to disenfranchise anybody in their voting rights, Scott said.
Herrens letter prompted the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections on Friday to advise supervisors to put the review on hold.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.