Appeals Court Won’t Rule On Florida Voter Purge Before Election Day

A federal appeals court said Tuesday it will not rule before Election Day on a challenge to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s aggressive program to purge almost 200 voters from the rolls. That list of 198 voters was pared down from 180,000 individuals, and then to a list of 2,600 that was still riddled with errors. There remains evidence that even this smaller list is not accurate.

In rejecting the request for an expedited hearing, Eleventh Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett reasoned that the Florida Secretary of State had guaranteed “there is no chance that a citizen will be erroneously removed before election day.” But this is not because Secretary Ken Dutzner agreed to halt the purge until after the election. Instead, he made a procedural argument, based on several unsubstantiated assertions, that it would be impossible for the state to remove a citizen before the election, given the law’s required 30 days’ notice to contest a purge. In their reply motion, plaintiffs poke several gaping holes in this reasoning, including pointing out that notices could and likely have already been sent out with far less than 30 days left before the election, and that those who respond in less than 30 days with a written objection may be purged immediately.

Judge Barkett did not wade into the Secretary’s reasoning in her order, instead relying upon the “representation that there is no chance that a citizen will be removed from the voter rolls.” Given this guarantee, it may turn out that the plaintiffs have a claim of fraud upon the court, should it become evident that the state purged even a single citizen.