WASHINGTON (CN) – Florida upped the ante in its fight to purge its voting rolls, suing the Homeland Security Department and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for access to a federal immigration database that Florida claims it needs to “protect the integrity of elections and maintain current and accurate voter registration rolls.”
The Florida Department of State sued Uncle Sam in Federal Court, demanding immediate access to the SAVE Program (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program System of Records).
The complaint was filed Monday, the same day the Justice Department filed suit to shut down Florida’s voter-registration purge.
Florida says in its complaint that its Secretary of State Ken Detzner “received credible and reliable information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that non-citizens were registered to vote in Florida” last year.
The state claims that it peppered Homeland Security with telephone calls and emails in August 2010, seeking access to SAVE, but was ignored.
Florida claims Uncle Sam ignored its requests from Aug. 1, 2011 until June 11, 2012, when the state sued. During this time, the state says, DHS bailed on teleconferences, failed to return numerous phone calls and asked Florida for “more information about the types of documentation the state would use to identify citizens.”
The Department of Justice, in suing Florida, claimed that Detzner’s plan to purge voters from the rolls before the November presidential election violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Florida purged thousands of voters from its rolls before the 2000 presidential election.
“The Department of Justice has an overriding interest in protecting the rights of eligible citizens to register and vote free from unlawful burdens, while at the same time ensuring that ineligible persons do not register and vote in federal elections in violation of the law,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a statement.
But Florida claims Homeland Security is required by law to grant access to the SAVE Program, which pulls data on the immigration status of citizens and noncitizens from federal, state and local sources, “for any legal purpose, such as credentials, background investigations, and voter registration.”
The complaint states: “Defendants’ unwarranted delay and recalcitrance in fulfilling its statutory obligation to provide SAVE Program access has unjustifiably interfered with FDOS’s ability to fulfill its own statutory obligation to protect the integrity of elections and maintain current and accurate voter registration rolls.”
Florida wants an injunction granting it immediate access to the database.
It is represented by William Consovoy, with Wiley Rein.