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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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"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms," the declaration states. "Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

And free people have the right to vote. Not the privilege. The right.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

But how are people to alter, abolish or institute new government if they can't participate in the democratic process created to help them do just that? Um. Exactly.

3. BECAUSE IT'S ILLEGAL
Critics of the governor's scrub-happy maneuvering have cited two very important laws meant to curtail intentional voter suppression: the 1965 Voting Rights Act and 1993's National Voter Registration Act. The former forbids states from enacting laws that prohibit voter participation based on race, forcing areas in the South (which had historically been responsible in large part for poll taxes and Jim Crow laws) to get preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice on any changes to voting laws. The latter, the NVRA, prevents states from adjusting their voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election, among numerous other pro-voter caveats. When a legion of voting and civil rights groups banded together to sue the state on the matter of its mass purge – citing, among various racial implications, the fact that there is a federal election within the next 90 days (that being the August 13 primary), the response from the DOJ was swift and clear: the purge likely does violate the aforementioned laws, and should probably be stopped. Given a few days to mull it over in a festering conservative think tank, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner conjured the old red herring of "widespread voter fraud" that has yet to be quantified in any real manner. Then Florida went a step further, suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for not providing adequate information from a federal database for the state to purge even more voters. "I want everybody to vote … but not non-U.S. citizens," Scott told CNN on June 12. "That's illegal." Of course, when your database is vastly inaccurate such prudence doesn't apply.

4. BECAUSE IT'S RACIST
Don't believe anyone who tells you that it's not. Even if the process itself is blind – that is to say, even if the voter purge is being implemented purely on data and not on the color of voters' skin – the statistics are not. Latinos make up more than 58 percent of those contained in the flawed voter-purge list being used to scrub the rolls. It's no secret that the Hispanic vote has yet to be fully claimed by any party – Hispanic voters, pollsters point out, are often swing voters, less likely to vote along party lines. Which means they are unpredictable. Which means it's better to just keep them from getting to the polls in the first place, rather than take a chance that they vote and fail to vote for the "right" candidate (cough cough, Mitt Romney-bot).

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