By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
ST. PETERSBURG — In the debate over rights, eligibility and access to the ballot box in Florida, all sides seem to be claiming victory this week.
The Florida Department of State decided Thursday to stop purging the voter rolls of ineligible voters to avoid the “time, expense, and uncertainty of litigation,” according to a mutual stipulation signed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in Miami.
Even though Secretary of StateKen Detzner agreed to halt more probes based upon citizenship ahead of November’s general election, the agreement does state that voters who have been confirmed ineligible should be removed.
“Any individual … should be restored to the voter rolls unless he or she was removed by a Supervisor of Elections on a basis unrelated to citizenship status, such as deceased, adjudicated mentally incompetent, or request by voter,” states the agreement.
“Any individual who has been removed from the voter rolls may appeal the removal in accordance with Florida law.”
This agreement effectively ended the contentious debate over the state’s voter rolls, which previous examinations revealed were riddled with close to 200,000 noncitizens, deceased or otherwise ineligible voters.
The challenge to the state’s efforts was first filed by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization in Los Angeles; Project Vote, a similar group based in Washington, D.C.; and theService Employees International Union, one of the largest trade unions in the country.
“American citizens won’t be purged, and naturalized citizens won’t be purged. For us, it’s a great victory,” said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director at the Advancement Project.
Detzner, however, refused to classify the agreement as a loss for the state.
“The voter eligibility initiative is already proving to be a successful process to identify illegally registered voters on Florida’s voter rolls,” he said in a statement.
“We want every Florida voter to be confident that their vote is protected and not hurt in any way by the illegal activity of others.”
Read more: Florida Watchdog