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Florida GOP chair: Purging voter rolls is no different from a traffic stop

Both on the air and online, we've been telling you about Florida governor Rick Scott's purge of the voter rolls.
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida

Both on the air and online, we've been telling you about Florida governor Rick Scott's purge of the voter rolls. Scott, a conservative Republican, says he's just trying to remove ineligible voters, including non-citizens. But the list that's being used has been shown to be riddled with errors, raising concerns that hundreds of legitimate voters—disproportinately from demographic groups that lean Democratic—could be barred from voting.

That leads us to Wednesday, when, Lenny Curry, the state's Republican party chair, defended the purge by saying it's no different from a traffic stop targeting drunk drivers. Curry said in a statement (via Think Progress): 


This past Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement put up checkpoints to ensure drunk drivers did not threaten the safety of fellow motorists. Undoubtedly, many of the drivers who were met by police were, in fact, not driving drunk. However, we accept the notion that on such a heavily traveled holiday, a few moments of inconvenience to law-abiding drivers is worth it if we can ensure safe highways.Similarly, officials in Florida are undertaking a methodical and reasonable effort to maintain the security of Florida's voter rolls. While some who are citizens, and others who are not deceased, may be asked to simply participate in the verification process, thousands of these records do accurately reflect non-citizens and people who have died.

Do we really need to point out why this comparison is absurd? Voters purged from the rolls don't just have to endure a momentary inconvenience before being told to have a nice day. Instead, as Think Progress notes, they're sent an "ominous and legalistic letter ... that requires them to request 'an administrative hearing to present evidence' in order to dispute the State of Florida’s determination or be removed from the voter rolls." It's all but certain that some proportion of eligible voters won't follow through with that process.

This all might almost be defensible, of course, if there were a genuine threat that a significant number of ineligible voters plan to try to cast a ballot. But Scott and his allies have produced almost none. What they have done is ensured that some proportion of Floridians—overwhelmingly minorities, students, and the poor—will be denied their right to vote come Election Day.