Voter purge legal fight could last months

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A legal battle over Florida’s controversial attempt to purge ineligible voters might not be resolved until next year — after this fall’s elections, according to a document filed Wednesday reports the News Service of Florida. The federal government filed a lawsuit in June, arguing that Florida was violating election laws in the way it was conducting the purge. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle signed an order Wednesday that indicated a scheduling conference could be held in January to set a trial date. Hinkle also ordered the state to meet an Aug. 17 deadline to turn over a variety of records to the federal government, including a 180,000-name list that has been at the center of the controversy.

In a document filed last week, the federal government said a settlement of the case is possible, though it would hinge on “prompt disclosure” by the state of the list, the name of voters removed from the election rolls and the reasons. The document also said that the federal government issued subpoenas July 30 to nine elections supervisors, seeking information about the lists and voters removed from the rolls. It does not name the nine supervisors. The state countered in the document that there is no need for a lengthy “discovery” period in the case. It said the state is receiving access to a federal Department of Homeland Security database that will allow it to better verify voter eligibility. “Since the state of Florida wants to verify that properly registered voters were not removed from the rolls, the secretary (of state) will promptly use the … database to check whether any of the voters removed from the rolls pursuant to the process challenged in this case were, in fact, citizens,” the state said in the document. “In the event that any eligible voters were wrongfully removed, the secretary will ensure that they are immediately restored to the rolls and notified that any prior notice of ineligibility was in error.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.