Florida gets access to federal database for voter purge

By Arturo Garcia
Sunday, July 15, 2012 12:31 EDT
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The federal government will allow Florida elections officials to use a law enforcement database to purge non-citizens from the voting roster, according to CNN.

An agreement with the Department of Homeland Security will give Florida access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE), which is typically used to gauge the immigration status of benefits applicants.

“Florida voters are counting on their state and federal governments to cooperate in a way that ensures elections are fair, beginning with ensuring the voter rolls are current and accurate,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a statement Saturday.

However, at least one immigrants’ advocacy group says SAVE does not verify whether an immigrant is “unlawfully present” in the U.S.

On its’ website, the Immigration Policy Center, a division of the American Immigration Council, says, “There is no magic database that can say whether a person is lawfully or unlawfully present. The U.S. has a complex administrative and judicial process for determining whether a non-citizen is lawfully present or may be eligible for lawful status, or whether he will be permitted to remain in the U.S.”

The Associated Press reports the state has agreed to challenge a voter’s status only if it can provide a “unique identifier” – like an “alien number” assigned to immigrant residents with a visa or another type of permit but who are not naturalized citizens – for the voter. An undocumented immigrant would typically not show up in this kind of search because of a lack of this identifier.

The agreement will prevent Florida from using only a name and birthdate to seek federal data about a suspected noncitizen on voter rolls.

Last month, a federal judge ruled Florida could resume its voter purge, rebuffing a request by the U.S. Justice Department to stop the practice, saying “systematic” purges should be completed 90 days before the election.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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