Voter purge clearance raises concerns

10:39 AM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, FL -- The federal government is allowing Florida to access a federal immigration database to pinpoint the legal status of voters and determine what names can be purged.

"You say essentially only citizens can vote and all we're doing under the governor's leadership is making sure only citizens can vote. Now that sounds great, but here's the problem with the purge -- it disproportionately is going to flag minorities. Hispanics, African Americans, Democrats, Independents, recent immigrants," says USF St. Petersburg Political Science Professor Dr. Seth C. McKee.

That's what worries Mi Familia Vota, a nonprofit that works with people who have recently become U.S. citizens.

"It brings a lot of questions about the legality and also the targeting of specific groups," says Voter Registration Coordinator Pamela Gomez.

And it raises concerns about how updated the lists are. Gomez is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Florida's Secretary of State over comparing voter lists against the state's driver's license records. Gomez got her license six years ago, but became a naturalized citizen just last year. She fears if the lists aren't fresh, legal citizens could be wrongly targeted.

"That's why we're here today and we're demanding a say because assuming and purging people off a list is just not right," Gomez says. "They should be encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them from being a part of the process."

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