On June 12, 2012, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit against the State of Florida and the Florida Secretary of State in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The DOJ brought this action under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-9, alleging that the State of Florida violated the NVRA by conducting a systematic program to purge voters from its voter registration rolls within the statutorily-required 90-day quiet period before an election for federal office. In addition, the DOJ alleged that Florida's use of inaccurate and unreliable voter verification procedures violated NVRA's requirements that any such program be uniform and nondiscriminatory. The DOJ sought a declaratory judgment and an injunction against Florida taking any further steps in connection with its voter purge program.
On June 15, 2012, the DOJ moved for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the State from implementing the program. Various organizations, including the Judicial Watch, True the Vote, and the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law filed amicus
briefs in support of the motion.
On June 28, 2012, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle denied the motion finding that the State had "abandoned the [voter purge] program." Judge Hinkle held that the State's program did not violate the 90-day quiet period provision of the NVRA. However, Judge Hinkle noted that it was likely that the voter purge was invalid because it was not "uniform" and "non-discriminatory." Judge Hinkle emphasized that it was possible for the State to design a program program that "accurately identifies noncitizens who are registered to vote without unnecessarily challenging citizens could meet the requirement of uniformity and nondiscrimination," but that the current program likely violated the NVRA. 870 F. Supp. 2d 1346 (N.D. Fla. 2012).
In June of 2012, four individuals and an organization, Judicial Watch, moved to intervene in this action, claiming that if noncitizens were improperly registered to vote, it would dilute the votes of properly registered voters. Another organization, True the Vote, moved to intervene as well, wanting to ensure that the state properly maintained accurate voting lists.
On September 27, 2012, the parties moved jointly to stay the proceedings until after the election. Judge Hinkle granted the motion on October 10, 2012. Judge Hinkle denied the motions to intervene on November 6, 2012, finding that the intervening parties had their interests adequately represented by the State.
On January 10, 2013, the parties jointly stipulated to dismiss this action, and on January 16, 2013, Judge Hinkle dismissed the case. Although the legality of the program was not fully litigated in this case, in 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the 2012 voter purge program did, in fact, violate the NVRA. Arcia v. Fla. Sec'y of State
, 772 F.3d 1335 (11th Cir. 2014). More information about that case can be found at VR-FL-0170
in this Clearinghouse. - 06/28/2012
John He - 10/16/2016