Justice Department demand voter purge data from 9 counties, including Palm Beach, in lawsuit against Scottby Dara Kam | August 9th, 2012
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher was among nine county elections supervisors subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott’s administration over his non-U.S. citizen voter purge.
The demand for documents and other information is part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, scheduled to drag on past the Nov. 6 general election and into next year. The subpoenas went out to supervisors in Bay, Broward, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, and Pinellas counties.
It’s unclear why Bucher, who she said received the subpoena on July 31, was included in the dragnet. She never did anything with the list of 115 Palm Beach County voters flagged as potential non-citizens by Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office in March.
But the Justice Department lawyers demanded all documents or information related to the voter purge, dreamed up by Scott and launched by Detzner this spring. Detzner’s office sent out a list of about 2,600 potential non-citizens to the state’s 67 supervisors of elections, instructing the local officials to send letters to the flagged voters and ask them to prove they are citizens. Bucher and many other supervisors balked after some elections officials found the lists included the names of voters who had become naturalized citizens or were even born in the U.S. In one highly publicized case, a Broward County World War II Bronze Medal hero was identified as potentially being ineligible to vote.
Bucher is sending a letter to the DOJ telling them she didn’t participate in the voter purge and is handing over a copy of the disk containing the list of 115 Palm Beach County voters provided to her by Detzner, she said. The DOJ asked the supervisors to give them the information by Aug. 15, the day after Florida’s primary on Tuesday.
The Justice Department sued Scott’s administration in June, saying they believed the purge violates at least two federal voting laws. But later that month, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle refused to grant the feds an injunction blocking the purge because Detzner said the state had already abandoned the effort.
In a court document filed on Aug. 1, the Justice Department said it wants to ensure that no eligible voters were erroneously removed from the list. The discovery period is supposed to last until after the general election in November.
But, at any time during the discovery period, “If the United States identifies any eligible voter inappropriately removed from the rolls, the United States will work with the State to reinstate that voter and, if the parties cannot agree on the reinstatement of the voter, the United States may seek appropriate relief regarding reinstatement of that voter, as well as the evidence supporting that relief,” Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general civil rights division, wrote.
Scott’s administration sued the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to the federal “Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements,” or “SAVE,” database Detzner said he needs to come up with a less error-riddled list of potential non-citizens. The department recently agreed to allow the state to use the database but the two governments haven’t yet finalized a deal.