Good Day For Voting Rights

Today is turning out to be a pretty good moment for voting rights. First off, it became apparent that despite a judge’s ruling in his favor last week, Rick Scott’s voter purge allegedly aimed at non-citizens is as dead as a doornail, as The Nation‘s Ari Berman explains:

Last week Florida federal district court judge Robert Hinkle ruled against the Justice Department’s motion for a temporary injunction against Florida’s voter purge. The ruling was widely portrayed as a victory for the state, by Florida Governor Rick Scott and many in the media.

Yet the ruling itself was less of an endorsement for Florida and more of a rebuke. “There were major flaws in the program,” Hinkle wrote. “The [Florida secretary of state] compiled the list in a manner certain to include a large number of citizens…The program was likely to have a discriminatory impact on new citizens.” Hinkle ruled in favor of the state “primarily because the Secretary has abandoned the program.”

In case you’ve forgotten, Florida’s voter purge was riddled with errors (“98.4% of the 2,625 people identified by the Florida SOS as ‘potential noncitizens’ remain on the rolls because the Supervisors of Elections found insufficient evidence that they were ineligible to be registered voters,” found University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith), racially biased (minorities comprised 80 percent of the list but only 30 percent of Florida’s population) and blatantly partisan (Democrats outnumbered Republicans by two to one). That’s why Florida’s supervisors of elections overwhelmingly refused to implement the purge—which remains their position following Judge Hinkle’s ruling.

“The supervisors are where we were before—we’ve stopped the purge,” Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, told me. “The list was much too flawed for the elections supervisors to move forward with in the same format and without backup documentation.”

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed three voter suppression measures–a voter ID bill, a citizenship affirmation requirement, and restrictions on independent groups registering voters–drafted by a GOP secretary of state and pushed through by GOP legislators, making him the second prominent member of his party in the course of a week to surprise friends and enemies alike.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.