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COLUMN

Florida's attempt to scrub the voter rolls is un-American

We give you five good reasons why you should care about the state's voter purge

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A Tea Party-backed effort begun by an organization called True the Vote is suing states to force them to enact purges of their own. The organization's mission, according to its website, is to "promote ideas that actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation." Underlying the organization's rhetoric is the unstated conclusion that our government is corrupt not because money taints our legislatures and Congress, not because corporate interests are put before the interests of the citizens of this country, and not because our electoral system is set up so that the richest (not the best) candidates win elections. True the Vote's angle is that our biggest, most pressing problem is that some people who are registered to vote are either dead or illegally registered. The organization has partnered with Judicial Watch on its "election integrity" project and the two organizations have multiple states – Mississippi, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama and California – in their crosshairs.

"There appear to be more individuals on voter registration lists in these states than there are individuals eligible to vote, including individuals who are deceased," Judicial Watch warns on its website. "Judicial Watch's initial warning letters notified election officials in Ohio and Indiana that they are required by law to 'maintain accurate lists of eligible voters for use in conducting elections,' and that Judicial Watch is prepared to take legal action if election officials fail to clean up their voter rolls."

But according to Simon and other civil rights watchdogs, this isn't a matter of cleaning up the voter rolls at all – there are already laws on the books that address legal consequences for those who vote illegally. But they're not being heavily enforced.

"Clearly there probably are people who are illegally registered," he says. "And I do not know if maybe they have illegally voted, but that's a third-degree felony in the state of Florida if they did, and maybe they should be prosecuted for that, and if they were, maybe that would send the message to other people. So we can't let the governor get away with the idea that he is trying to protect the integrity of the electoral system. Of course the integrity of the electoral system should protected."

But not at the cost of your right to vote – our right to vote.

"What I find most offensive is the kind of 1984 Orwell speak, you know, knocking people off the voting rolls, knocking American citizens off the voting rolls as collateral damage in the search for the few people who may be on the voting rolls illegally," Simon says. "This is what this governor calls protecting the integrity of elections. Normal people would call it depriving legitimate voters of their right to vote."

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